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Russian River pulling out of WA?

Discussion in 'US - Northwest' started by distantmantra, Dec 31, 2012.

  1. CA_Infidel2o9

    CA_Infidel2o9 Savant (310) Dec 1, 2012

    Exactly. I'm from CA and the first bottle shop I walk into in Seattle is full of "tions". I've never seen that before and was in complete heaven. But obviously it doesn't move that much as there was only 1 bottle of pliny left and the only way they let you buy it was to buy all the other "tions"
  2. draheim

    draheim Poobah (1,015) Washington Sep 18, 2010

    What bottle shop requires you to buy other RR beers in order to buy Pliny? I've never seen this.
  3. What I saw in WA would never happen in So Cal, ever. The four stores around me that get the regular relases sours will have them for no more than a day or two. Sure you can get lucky but by no fucking means are they easy as hell to get.
  4. Thanks for posting the letter. I had a chance to read it earlier. I agree from reading it that it feels as if there is something that we are not seeing. I understand the want and need to supply the local market, and I hope that is the reason that they are pulling out of WA as opposed to being financial in trouble or some other not seen or alluded to reason. Ether way it still sucks that it is happening. It was mentioned to earlier in the thread that the reason for not pulling out of Philly and Colorado is because of the connection to Monks, Falling Rock ect... but didnt' RR brew Deviation, one of the most sought after American Sours for Bottleworks in Seattle. Not to mention the connection with Brouwers and the other great WA beer establishments. So a decision to pull out of the market would be a big one. One can only hope that it is based on supporting the local market and being able to maintain the brand. Only Vinnie and Natalie would ever be able to explain it, and maybe it is a simple as the letter explains.

    I think the trading scenario is an "ish" when it comes to trading. I know that at RR they are very good when getting growlers to make sure that they are being taken care of as best as they can ie: making sure that when they realize people are from out of state and are taking multiple growlers that they are transporting them properly, providing ice for coolers and even refusing to sell the beer if they do not intend to transport it properly. I think Shaun Hill is the same way as far as the way his beers are taken care of. And he is huge on the whole ebay sale issues ( but that is a completely different story worthy of it's own discussion)

    But i think it comes down to what they control. If any one of us bought and sent RR beers there is not much they can do to stop us. If any of the brewers found out who we are they can send a email telling us to stop, but we can still go to a store, by Pliny, hold on to it for 2 months and use it for a trade. So the best they can do is try and control the people that are selling the beer. The beers are going to be traded, and I am sure they would all like to be able to control the trading as well.

    Sorry for the long rant. BTW great discussion.
    yojimbo1 and beertunes like this.
  5. There was a bottle shop in Renton that had graymarket Blind Pig last summer. You had to buy Damnation in order to buy a bottle if I remember correctly. I haven't heard of another WA store doing anything similar, though.
  6. timfoolery

    timfoolery Zealot (75) California Apr 16, 2012

    I don't think it's this at all. The demand is crazy within their 100 mile radius. I live a little over an hour away from the brewpub, and I have to drive at least 30-40 minutes to ensure I get a bottle of Pliny, unless I'm in one of the stores on the morning that get their monthly/bi-monthly allotment. The "-ions" vary by location...SF Bay Area sees most of them consistently, but North Bay doesn't get Consecration or any Blind Pig...very inconsistent within the local markets.

    From what I gather, the decision to halt the prior expansion was based on Vinnie's ability to brew and maintain quality control. Last year, we saw many sub-brewers bolt to start their own breweries across the country, and I wouldn't be surprised if that's why Natalie and Vinnie chose to stay small. Besides 50% of their profit comes from the brewpub alone, so there's that.

    To me, it's ridiculous that WA stores have regular stock and we have extremely limited access in the North Bay. Sacramento stores sell bottles for $7-9/Pliny, while WA has it for $5...which is flat dumb.
  7. tozerm

    tozerm Savant (365) Washington Jul 1, 2005

    Cascade.. and virtually ever other brewery in WA, is licensed as a distributor as well as a brewery. The catch is that they cannot distribute any other brand of beer but their own.

    As for RR wanting to self-distribute in WA, I highly highly doubt this is the case. Any additional $ they made from selling at a higher wholesale price would get eaten up with paying for a sales person and all the delivery costs. Selling direct would mean they would have to have a physical, licensed location to warehouse the product for sale.
  8. Used to be the case, but here in the South Bay the RR sours don't seem to last longer than a couple of weeks after a new batch comes out these days.
  9. draheim

    draheim Poobah (1,015) Washington Sep 18, 2010

    I recall that too, but Blind Pig was never distributed here in bottles. Pliny is a different story. Pliny was a different story. (Have to remember to use past tense when discussing Russian River; it's all so sudden.)
    Regardless, a shitty policy.
  10. This is bullshit. Business is business, but as for me; I hate the decision.
  11. maltmaster420

    maltmaster420 Savant (440) Oregon Aug 17, 2005

    The whole letter reads like a thinly veiled "Fuck You!" to Click Distributing.
    beertunes, Smurf2055 and Mages64 like this.
  12. dirtylou

    dirtylou Champion (760) Washington May 12, 2005

    Can't speak for SoCal - maybe we just get a ton more of these beers. They are not difficult at all to find in Seattle, Portland or San Fran from my experience
  13. 1. Oregon is a control state and CO is an open state, but the three tier system (dating back to prohibition) requires a distributor to sell to retailers (WA being a recent exception see point 2).

    2(a). Costco started a petition last year to challenge the three tier system, in turn moving WA into an open state model. Costco's thinking was that liquor/beer/wine suppliers would sell directly to them if they had the warehousing and capabilities to distribute. Costco coughed up significant investment in warehousing/DCs thinking that by cutting out the middle man (distributor) by becoming the middle man they would have lower prices than ever before. This backfired to an extent, because many big suppliers have multi state contracts with distributors or don't want to piss off their current distributor partners and put all their eggs in one basket with a big muscle retailer who has no incentive to build brands and entire strategy is bases upon low-price.

    2(b). What you see when you go to a grocery store on spirits are the new taxes as part of the new law, which has lead to significant price increases in the first year. What you also see is more private label cheap plastic bottles (Prestige) than in any other state in the country. This is where the WA law comes into place. These little run of the mill suppliers are selling directly to stores and bypassing a distributor which is why the private label products are much cheaper than all the other products. The problem is that the big suppliers with great operational and distilling capabilities aren't making the liquid because the current sensitivity of bypassing their distributor partner who carries all there name brands to steal a little share of the cheap stuff. Cascade doesn't mean a lot to distributors given their current model (barrel house online and brewery sales, limited distro) so if they sell directly to the retailers they aren't running much risk.

  14. I saw all four regular variants at two stores in WA which would blow my mind if happened anywhere in CA outside of a 10 mile radius to RR. All the batches come out at different times signaling they either sat at the retailer or with the distributor. The RR sours are my wife's favorite beers (she only drinks sours) and I scour the shelves weekly to keep stock which is very tough if I don't catch the stores on delivery day.
  15. Mages64

    Mages64 Savant (370) Washington Sep 7, 2009

    The Force, Strong in you it is;)
    beertunes and maltmaster420 like this.
  16. draheim

    draheim Poobah (1,015) Washington Sep 18, 2010

    So... does a lot of hoarding go on in SoCal, or do you just get a tiny allotment? I don't typically buy more than a couple bottles of something that costs more than $1/oz (and I think I spend way more money on beer than your average Washingtonian), so the only thing I can think is that the distribution in California (SoCal in particular) is disproportionate to the market, or there are a lot of people buying up lots of RR beers down there for trading or resale purposes. I don't actively trade, but Russian River and Hair of the Dog have always been the top requests from other parts of the country.

    I will sorely miss seeing Russian River sours always lining the shelves at just about every store I frequent, including mid-range grocery stores. I never bought many of them (see price comment above), but it was always good to know they were available if I wanted to. I'm going to stock up on Temptation, Consecration, and Supplication while I still can.
  17. Whole Foods which has my highest success rates gets a couple cases each wave of batch releases whereas the independents that get them receive a case (two if they are really lucky). Often 1 bottle limits. If it weren't for Whole Foods it would be hard to accumulate 4 or 5 bottles a month. Of course, I do live in an area with a lot of beer heads and things like Dissident, Parabola, Abyss, etc... are impossible if you don't get lucky or put in significant effort.

    I agree they are pricey like most sours, but if that's all your wife drinks and you personally love them it's worth the money to keep her off your back on the rest of your beer spend. :)
  18. I haven't seen Sanctification for a while in the Seattle area. Anyone know where I could get a bottle for old times sake?
    Smurf2055 likes this.
  19. draheim

    draheim Poobah (1,015) Washington Sep 18, 2010

    I'm headed to at least one Whole Foods today, they always have a few RR beers in stock. No limits, just like everywhere else. In a few months I'll start getting pretty nostalgic about Russian River. Those were the days.

    I only wish my wife drank beer (or even wine), that would ease some friction if I could keep her stocked on something she likes. It's not like I'm going to have any luck buying her bags and shoes; I wouldn't know where to start.
    beertunes likes this.
  20. WF Roosevelt had Supplication, Damnation and Redemption yesterday. Lots of each, but nothing else.
  21. bgramer

    bgramer Savant (335) Washington Feb 10, 2006

    This. I've come into contact with Vinnie several times, both in person and via email. He's solid and has earned my respect not because he's a "nice guy" but because he's given back into the homebrewing community many times over. His letter is good enough of an explanation to me.

    Bottom line is, every business is different and he probably has some internal business affairs to settle and adjust his brewing operations (including distribution) to reflect that. That's really none of our business anyway.
    beertunes likes this.
  22. Smurf2055

    Smurf2055 Savant (485) Washington Nov 12, 2011

    Unless you find it in some truly backwater place, I think it's long gone. Last time I saw it was July or August. Full Throttle and Super Deli are some of the last stores to have these things.
  23. I received a good explanation from Natalie via email (in response to my email confirming what I thought might be a rumor prior to seeing the letter). (1) They're at 100% capacity and don't plan to expand anytime soon, (2) WA liquor laws prevent them from directing who receives their beer, and (3) all of the beer that was being distributed to WA will be sold at the pub. As a aside, according to her email, Philly gets a "small amount."

    Finally, they do not currently have a plan to come back to WA unless they "build another production brewery and if Washington changes their liquor laws."
    66jzmstr and NWer like this.
  24. yojimbo1

    yojimbo1 Initiate (0) Kansas Feb 26, 2012

    Good info. So it was lip service...

    I'm a little curious if they don't want to expand at all or more likely if they don't want to give away anymore equity to investors and prefers to pay down company bonds at a faster clip using the better margins at the brew pub and someday expand into a larger production brewery without giving up additional equity.

    Also I kind of forgot about Younger until now. I haven't had the chance to try it yet and was hoping this would be the year. It's too bad they couldn't wait a couple more months. I assume their contract with Click was just expiring.
  25. Bottlez Up in Kirkland did this. After that, and after leaving their "Grand Opening!!!" banner up for two years, they now appear to be out of business. My simple mind chalks this up to karma.

    My dog and I are going on a Russian River around Kirkland this afternoon.

    BTW, Kendall now has a blog post up about this: http://www.washingtonbeerblog.com/pliny_washington/
    NWer likes this.
  26. I had Younger last February at Last Drop, but I was looking forward to taking a bunch of my buddies this year to try it. Oh well.
  27. tozerm

    tozerm Savant (365) Washington Jul 1, 2005

    2(a). Costco started a petition last year to challenge the three tier system, in turn moving WA into an open state model. Costco's thinking was that liquor/beer/wine suppliers would sell directly to them if they had the warehousing and capabilities to distribute. Costco coughed up significant investment in warehousing/DCs thinking that by cutting out the middle man (distributor) by becoming the middle man they would have lower prices than ever before. This backfired to an extent, because many big suppliers have multi state contracts with distributors or don't want to piss off their current distributor partners and put all their eggs in one basket with a big muscle retailer who has no incentive to build brands and entire strategy is bases upon low-price.

    2(b). What you see when you go to a grocery store on spirits are the new taxes as part of the new law, which has lead to significant price increases in the first year. What you also see is more private label cheap plastic bottles (Prestige) than in any other state in the country. This is where the WA law comes into place. These little run of the mill suppliers are selling directly to stores and bypassing a distributor which is why the private label products are much cheaper than all the other products. The problem is that the big suppliers with great operational and distilling capabilities aren't making the liquid because the current sensitivity of bypassing their distributor partner who carries all there name brands to steal a little share of the cheap stuff. Cascade doesn't mean a lot to distributors given their current model (barrel house online and brewery sales, limited distro) so if they sell directly to the retailers they aren't running much risk.[/quote]

    Beer has nothing to do with the new spirits/wine laws in Washington, but what you say relating to spirits is basically correct.
  28. Please don't rush out to buy up all the inventory left on the shelves before I get a chance lol.
  29. Pliny is long gone, but I haven't seen a run on the -tions in the last couple days at my local spots.
  30. draheim

    draheim Poobah (1,015) Washington Sep 18, 2010

    That's what the rest of us are thinking too.
  31. Chucks on 85th only has Damnation according to their FB feed. Let the hoarding commence.
  32. draheim

    draheim Poobah (1,015) Washington Sep 18, 2010

    I'm gonna take a wild guess who got a lot of those bottles. ;)

    [​IMG]
  33. Surely you're kidding. ;)
  34. yojimbo1

    yojimbo1 Initiate (0) Kansas Feb 26, 2012

    I just got here in early Feb but was busy unpacking and wasn't really aware of where to find that. Oh we'll cant blame anyone but myself. When I was living in Southern California I went have it at one place but I was about five minutes late, damn.
  35. pjdipes

    pjdipes Disciple (70) Washington Nov 18, 2012

    Supplication and Sanctification are at Rocky's Deli on 196th in Lynnwood. Multiple bottles of both.
  36. adkieffer

    adkieffer Savant (320) Washington Nov 23, 2010

    Man, leave for a couple days and shit hits the fan. Time to find what I can, then start buying bottled sours made by WA brewers.........oh, wait! Much happier with my choice to join Crooked Stave's Reserve Club now! I will at least have a consistent follow of world class sours rolling in.

    I hope to have them back again soon. If the WA distribution companies can't figure their shit out it is gonna be a long year. Get it together Click and A/B!!!
  37. Well I was able to get (2) Consecration (2) Temptation (2) Supplication and (1) Redemption. I now have to hide the receipt from my wife and not buy anything for the rest of 2013 haha.
  38. Mages64

    Mages64 Savant (370) Washington Sep 7, 2009

    Please explain... I can promise you that this was not because of anything Click did... and A/B has nothing to do with this:)
    Also, if a retailer were to go down to the brewery itself and pick it up, then you can resell it... just sayin'.
  39. [​IMG]

    Don't give Chuck any ideas.
    draheim likes this.
  40. Smurf2055

    Smurf2055 Savant (485) Washington Nov 12, 2011

    He's got a couple of the 750's in his private stash but we were actually sold out of everything except Redemption and Temptation before this was announced. I told him we should put away a case of Supplication because it was going to be the last release for a while, but we stocked it and sold it anyway. Oh well.

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