Archive for June, 2012

[THURSDAY TASTING] Sweetwater “Save The French Broad” 6/28, 5-7pm

Posted Jun 27, 2012 in Beer, Breweries, Coolness, Events, People, Seasonals, Sports

Our tasting tomorrow benefits “Save The French Broad” campaign with Sweetwater Brewing. Pay $5 for a fish and drink beer. Easy! Hartwell Carson, the French Broad Riverkeeper, will be on hand to answer any questions you have about the program and his work in saving the river.

This is the fifth year of the French Broad Riverkeeper has worked with Sweetwater Brewing Company to help “Save the French Broad River,” and thanks to the support from the community last year was our most successful campaign to date, raising over $36,000 to help cleanup the French Broad River and build the paddle trail! A special thank you goes to REI, Parsec Financial, Sweetwater, and each and every volunteer that helped saw, dig, cut, and plant overgrown tangles of invasive species into a beautiful riverside campgrounds.

Waterkeeper Hefeweizen: Sweet, traditional German-style hefeweizen. [5.9% abv]

Exodus Porter: “First brewed on Bob Marley’s birthday, this Legend-ary porter initially delivers distinct irie hop notes which transcend into rich waves of chocolate, creating a multidimensional taste experience!” [6.2% abv]

Sweetwater IPA: “This mammouth India Pale Ale is loaded with intense hop character and subjected to an extensive dry-hopping process. Our IPA is unfiltered and as always, not pasteurized, leaving all the natural flavors intact.” [6.3% abv]

New this week at Bruisin’ Ales… Drink up!

Posted Jun 23, 2012 in Beer, Breweries, Limited Release, New this week

Photo: Yummy in ma tummy.

Everything that’s new and back in stock this weekend! It’s beautiful outside, so come grab some beer and enjoy it. We also got a bunch of new glassware this week.

BRECKENRIDGE 72 Imperial Chocolate Cream Stout
CATAWBA VALLEY Napoleon Berliner-weisse (growlers)
DARK HORSE Kmita Kolsch
FLYING DOG Wildeman Farmhouse IPA
GREAT DIVIDE Barrel-aged Old Ruffian (only a few left!)
GREAT DIVIDE Belgian-style Yeti
GREAT DIVIDE Rumble Oak-aged IPA
GREAT DIVIDE Wolfgang Doppelbock
LEFT HAND Smoke Jumper
LEGEND Hefeweizen
LIGHTNING Electrostatic Imperial Farmhouse
LIGHTNING Fulminator Imperial Bock
LONE RIDER Sweet Josie
NEW BELGIUM Ranger IPA (16oz cans)
OMMISSION Lager (gluten-free)
OMMISSION Pale Ale (gluten-free)
RUCKUS Euphoria Tripel
SMUTTYNOSE Big A Double IPA
SPRECHER Summer Pils
UINTA Baba Black Lager
UINTA Hop Notch IPA
WEYERBACHER Blanche
WEYERBACHER Blasphemy (now in 750s)
WEYERBACHER Seventeen

Re: [GUEST POST] from Tiff @99Pours, which Julie renamed “How Sh*t Works in the Beer Business”

Posted Jun 22, 2012 in Miscellany

In the wee hours of Tuesday last, Tiffany Hereth Adamowski—my female comrade, who also runs a beer retail shop with her husband called 99 Bottles, way over yonder in Washington state—snuck into my head and stole my thoughts. She wrote the blog post I’d been dreaming of. The one that I’d hoped to write. (The one I’d have the balls to write.) The ONE. The post of all posts from a retailer perspective. She wrapped everything up in one tidy, informative blog post that covered all my angst and inability to make sense of “The System” to myself, let alone my customers—and BONUS! She actually had the patience to write it down.

You see, even though we, the retailers, are the ones at the end of the line that deal directly with the customer (and I’m not including bars here), no one really pays a lot of attention to us. And it’s weird. It’s not that either of us are complaining. We’re just saying: It doesn’t make sense. Tiffany is specifically speaking about the great educational possibilities in the relationship between beer retailers and beer bloggers. Amen. I agree 100%. But, I’m going to go further on relationships, here.

There are, quite frankly, very few breweries who have top-noptch Brewery > Retail relationships. I would say that same holds true in Wholesalers/Distributors > Retail relationships. It’s a massive system of communication breakdown. It would truly be the Flowchart From Hell to put it into words. In there exists unholy marriages and broken promises. Hard, upspoken feelings. Treading lightly. Strange goings-on. The Works. The kind of thing that would make a really, really good book to about two-thousand people or so, maybe.

Here it is: We are the front lines, but no one asks us anything. Ever. (Well, hardly ever. That would be overly dramatic.) We have reports. We can tell you exactly what of your packaged product is selling, and when, or how long it takes to sell. Hell, I can tell you that a man/woman, depending on security camera footage, with last-four digits xxxx on a debit card, bought a mixed-six of this and that, totalling $14.41 at exactly 5:39pm last Tuesday, but the lack of wanting to know, and therefore, educate the public about “How Sh*t Works in the Beer Business” must not be really important right? RIGHT? We could spend half the day answering consumer questions that probably should be on your website—but wait, it can’t be on there, because the strange red tape the higher-ups got into make it illegal, so we’ll bury it somewhere (in maybe a government page?), that you may or may not be only able to access via password (in some states), and only a few have requested that password, anyway, so it’s unlikely that anyone will even care… even though I get asked the same question every day without fail. You know what? The extra time it takes to make it easy on the consumer to find information, makes it easier for us to relay the information. Except, we handle it and you don’t. Some days, I don’t know how to handle it. Give us the tools we need. Please.

You get the point. It could be better. That’s all I’m saying. If you are even reading this. (And, I do hope you are. Probably, 99 Bottles and many others independent retailers hope you are, too.) If do you it well—the Brewery > Retail relationship or the Wholesale/Distributor > Retail relationship—you are laughing at me right now, because you know me in real life. If you don’t, you’re hopefully considering sending your army out for a little street detail, because contrary to opinion, we have something of value to you: Knowledge.

And, yes, I’m well aware that I will probably catch sh*t for this post, because I’m supposed to be updating the website, so IN FULL DISCLOSURE, this is Julie writing, and the above is just my two-cent add-on to what that Tiffany says below, that she nor Jason may agree with me, SO I HEREBY CLAIM those statements to be mine and mine alone, forever and amen. Thank you very much. Elvis has left the building.

But before you read it, let me throw another two cents in. What Tiffany is really saying is: If these guys don’t care, how on earth do we get our job done? And done well? Let’s call out the front lines, the folks who drink. Let’s educate there, beer drinker to drinker, beer blogger to blogger. And, locally, I think Asheville could really, really benefit from a bigger beer blogger presence. Both of our most active beer writers are  journalists (and soon-to-be-authors, like Anne-Fitten Glenn). Why are there no real beer drinkers in Asheville blogging about beer? I mean we are “Beer City,” right? And we have a Blogging Society? We’re proud of our beers aren’t we? Hello? Is this thing on?

So enjoy the dirty details of our experience, a.k.a. “The System,” from start to finish. But know this from the start: Everyone knows the system is broken. And, do you know why no one can understand it? Because, how could you possibly? It’s insane, utterly ridiculous at times, put-your-fist-through-a-wall FRUSTRATING. There, I said it. But, the great news is, what applies here in North Carolina, applies there (mostly) up in Washington, so I no longer have to give myself a headache about that One Great Blog Post. The one I’d been dreaming of. The one I’d hoped to write. (The one I’d have the balls to write.) The ONE. Because Tiff did it.

So today, I have a new hero. It’s Tiffany. Today, I raise my beer glass to her while yelling “NAILED IT!” at the top of my lungs.

The post was reprinted with permission from 99pours.com. (@99pours)

[GUEST POST] from Tiff @99Bottles: “Reflecting on the beer blogger – beer retailer connection”

Posted in Beer, Brewpubs, Rants

“Reflecting on the beer blogger – beer retailer connection”

99pours.com, Tiffany Hereth Adamowski

There are many challenges in running a beer shop, ranging from woeful discouragement to triumphant success, and back again. The same questions over and over. It feels like I’m living an a beer shop version of Ground Hog Day.

Repetition. The same questions over and over. I try out new answers. I offer the same answer. Over. And over. Sometimes I feel like a broken record, the same answer day-in, day-out. For me this isn’t so stressful. It is just part of the job. I do, however, get a bit frustrated when it is the fifth time I have answered this exact question for the same customer. Does he not realize I will give him the same answer next time, and the time after, as well? My patience wears thin. Clearly there is no retention. How can I get him to realize the answer will not change? To get it to absorb. Are we communicating in different languages? The old he’s from Mars, she’s from Venus kind of thing?

For the past few months I have been reflecting on how citizen beer bloggers could better network with a beer retailer like me.

This is one topic of reflection: Common questions asked by customers. It seems as these questions are not being answered in a way they understand. The questions continue to be asked. So, clearly, I need to share information from a different perspective…right?

Talk about beer supply & demand

I could really use help from beer bloggers to convey how the beer supply chain works. This is one of the most common themes that repeats itself.

“Do you have…(insert beer name here)? If anyone had the beer, you would.”

If we stock the beer, the answer is: Yes! Here it is.
Or: Yes, but I’m sorry, it is sold out. Sometimes this leads to a discussion of seasonal, limited and rare beers.

If we don’t have it, the answer…
Perhaps we can order a case for you. With an inventory of over 1,200 in a small shop with not much more square footage, there are beers available in Washington that we simply don’t stock on a regular basis. That is, if the beer just doesn’t sell fast enough, taking 3 months or longer to sell a case of 24, or worse, a case of 12, it’s put as “full case preorder only” item in our list. Afterall, we don’t want good beer going bad on our shelves, while awaiting discovery.

If we can’t get it, but they’ve seen it at another retailer or bar in Washington State, this can lead into controversial topics like bootlegging…and why we don’t participate in such practice. Or, the topic of special one-off kegs being approved for special events (this is common practice for festivals and is totally legal). It can also lead to topics of private label beers (also illegal in Washington State, according to the liquor control board), and the politics of distribution.

Many times the beer they seek just isn’t available in our state.
Or: It’s beer from a Washington brewery they seek, but the brewery cannot make enough beer to provide our store with any. That is, the beer the brewery produces is already selling out at the brewery and to existing accounts…there simply isn’t enough beer to go around.

“Why can’t you get it?” …. “Will you get it for me?”

If the brewery/beer isn’t available in Washington, I cannot attain it. We are licensed to direct-receive, but can only purchase from those licensed to distribute or who have distributors.

If a brewery doesn’t produce enough beer to add my store to its supply chain, there is nothing that I can do than be on a their wait list, and wait until the time when they choose to grow their brewery or, god forbid, lose an existing account.

If the person is really intent on getting this beer, how can THEY get it? Legal purchase: direct-ship. Travel? Trade? Questionable purchase: Black market?

“Why do you limit beers?”

There is beer with limited production that is highly sought after. If we didn’t apply limits, the first person in the door could buy everything and you would get none. We do this to share the beer love.

The distributor/brewery decides how many cases they will make available to my store. There are times when we request to order five or ten cases, but are allowed to buy just one or two. We have little control over this. This sometimes leads to question of “Why can’t you get more?”

…sometimes a contributing factor to how many cases we’ll get is how much of the brewery’s other labels that we sell. If customers don’t buy their other beers from us, we won’t get additional cases of the “hot” item. It’s just how it is.

…or it could be based on relationships and/or the politics of the beer industry. Verbal contracts. Big chains. Friendships.

…or it could be due to…?

We try to be fair with our allocation, to get the beer into as many hands as possible.

The beer blogger – beer retailer connection

I’ve been thinking a lot about the connection between my local beer bloggers and me, my store, and our local beer drinkers. There is definitely new territory that could be covered. But I don’t believe I’ve actually put my finger on it. I am trying to narrow this topic; next month I’ll be chatting about it with American beer bloggers. The panel, “Networking with Local Breweries, Distributors, and Retailers” is pretty wide open, and I haven’t asked conference organizer Allan Wright for specifics. So my mind has been wandering over this topic for months.

I think about each of the beer bloggers who come into our store. I look at their blogs, sometimes scanning, other times reading. Few local beer bloggers are on my regular reading schedule.

My favorite local read: The Washington Beer Blog

It’s written by Kendall Jones. Kendall’s blog is super; it’s written by him and also has women-authored posts by his wife and their North-end reporter. Rarely do they offer beer reviews, it’s focused on what’s happening in the Washington beer scene. The Washington Beer Blog is purely independent, with a focus on “now.” I asked to advertise with them because I like their style. Kendall and crew are the kind of people you want to sit down and have a beer with.

Sharing beer blogs

I don’t “purposefully network” with beer bloggers for our retail shop. I do peruse a variety of blogs and search Google for specific topics to share with our customers. Occasionally I share local beer blog posts with our customers — emailing thousands of subscribers via Constant Contact, posting to loads of visitors on our facebook page and twitter feed.

The beer blogs I share are those that entertain, inform, and, hopefully, engage.

When I feature reviews it’s done to pimp my beer. My delicious beer.

I still have so much to reflect on.

*********************************************

Great follow up post at The Washington Beer Blog.

New This Week

Posted Jun 15, 2012 in Beer, Breweries, Limited Release, Mead, New this week, Seasonals

Photo: Hello, beautiful. Here now! Limited. No shipping, sorry.

B. NEKTAR Cherry Chipotle Mead
BISON BREWING (ORGANIC) Honey Basil
CALDERA Rose Petal
CELT (ORGANIC) Bleddyn 1075
CELT (ORGANIC) Bronze
CELT (ORGANIC) Golden
DARK HORSE Kmita Kolsch
EPIC BREWING Wheat Beer (Hefeweizen)
EPIC BREWING Mid Mountain Mild
EPIC BREWING Pfiefferhorn Lager
EPIC BREWING Hop Syndrome
JOLLY PUMPKIN Bam Biere
JOLLY PUMPKIN IO (Red Saison)
LA TRAPPE Oak Aged Quadruple
LAGUNITAS Lucky “13″ Imperial Blonde
LAGUNITAS Undercover Shutdown Ale
NEBRASKA Fat Head Barleywine
NEW BELGIUM Shift
NEW BELGIUM Summersault
NEW BELGIUM / LOST ABBEY Brett Beer
NEW HOLLAND Full Circle Kolsch
OSKAR BLUES Gubna Imperial IPA (cans)
OSKAR BLUES Mama’s Little Yella Pils (cans)
PISGAH Summer Ale (growlers)
PISGAH Blueberry Wheat (growlers)
PISGAH Riverbend Brown (growlers)
SAM ADAMS Norse Legend Sahti
SAM ADAMS Verloren Gose
SAMUEL SMITH Apricot Ale
SPRECHER Summer Pils
SPRECHER Commando (Barrel-aged Piper’s Scotch Ale)
STOUDTS Pils
THE BRUERY White Oak
UINTA Dubhe Imperial Black IPA
UINTA Hop Notch
WIDMER BROTHERS Kill Devil Brown
WIDMER BROTHERS Marionberry Gose
WILLIAMS BROTHERS Kelpie Seaweed Ale