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Russian River pulling out of WA?

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

  1. Mages64

    Mages64 Savant (380) Washington Sep 7, 2009

    There are a million ways to redline. However no distributor in WA state that I'm aware of is douchey enough to do it.

    This^^ RR is the only supplier that wants to dictate who gets their beer and WA state won't allow it. Miller/bud would love to do it too but can't. Imagine a new bar opening and ordering bud light but the AB/InBev distributor says "you gotta have 6 taps from us to pour our product. Do a regular Budweiser, a goose island, red hook, Widmer, kona and hoegaadden handle then we'll sell you bud light"
    In essence that is exactly what RR wants. "buy damnation and we'll get you Pliny".

    There has been a lot of questions about distributorship in WA state but I'm unclear as to the main question. I see it simply, RR wanted to dictate who gets their beer and that is illegal. Am I missing a bigger question?
     
    NWer, beertunes and distantmantra like this.
  2. RR just posted on their facebook.

    ------

    Dear RRBC friends and family:

    Vinnie and I have recently made the difficult decision to stop distributing in the state of Washington. Unfortunately, the letter we drafted and addressed to our Washington accounts made it's way to the media and is online for the whole world to read! If you have not yet read it, go to the Seattle Beer News website. It's clear and it's honest. There is a lot of chatter and speculation on the internet about what's "really" going on. The truth is spelled out and not between the lines. We just don't have the beer. For those of you who have been to our brewpub, you are well-aware of how busy it is all of the time. Our brewpub accounts for more than 50% of our revenue, which is extraordinary for a brewery our size! The beer we are not sending to Washington is going straight to Downtown Santa Rosa to feed the machine we call our brewpub. It will not be distributed to other wholesalers. I did, however, address t...he difficulty we have had managing our brand in Washington, which appears to be due to some unique state liquor laws. But that's not why we pulled out. That only helped us decide which market. If we had the beer, we would absolutely be happy to continue our relationship with Click and ship our beer to the beautiful state of Washington regardles of state liquor laws. To squelch any other rumors: we have NO plans for expansion at this time. Those conversations are still at the "Vinnie and I chatting on the couch in the evening over a couple glasses of wine" phase. As for the rumor that we are pulling out of Oregon or any other market: those aren't true at all! Any other rumors, probably not true either :)

    I hope this clears things up. We are most apologetic to our fans and friends in Washington. We also hope to return someday if you will have us back!

    Cheers!
    Natalie and Vinnie Cilurzo
     
    djbreezy, NWer and draheim like this.
  3. draheim

    draheim Poobah (1,035) Washington Sep 18, 2010

    On behalf of those of us not on facebook, thanks for putting this up here.
     
  4. stupac2

    stupac2 Initiate (0) California Feb 22, 2011

    To be fair, it also went out on their blog, which you can subscribe to either through e-mail or RSS (or if you're dumb like me, both).
     
  5. draheim

    draheim Poobah (1,035) Washington Sep 18, 2010

    On behalf of those of us not on facebook, and not subscribed to Russian River's blog through either e-mail or RSS (or if you're dumb like stupac2, both), thanks for putting this up here.
     
  6. Let the gouging (for lack of a better term) begin ...

    Just got back from QFC in North Bend. The space where they usually have the RR -tions was empty, and I thought someone had already bought them all up. Then I look in the wine cellar and there are boxes of them. I grab a couple of Supplications and walk over to the wine/beer guy, who is over by the wine. Our (paraphrased) conversation:

    Me: Is it OK to buy these? Are you sending them back to the distributor or something?
    Him: No, that's fine. You're lucky, in fact. I pulled them all off the shelves to mark them up.
    Me: To mark them UP? Really? That's brutal.
    Him: Nah, it won't be too bad. Russian River pulled out of Washington, so it's the last chance to get all of this stuff, including Pliny.
    Me: So you have Pliny?
    Him: Depends ... (smirks) what will you pay for it? (Pause) I can give you one Pliny for $9.99.
    Me: You're serious? Hey, it's your store, but I'm not doing that ... that's crap. I won't be buying beer here any more, I can tell you that.

    Say what you want about free market, blah blah blah. They can do whatever they want. But I don't have to support it. And yes, I kept the two regular-price Supplications.

    I called a few other QFCs, and the one other one that has Pliny is making you buy a Damnation first. I asked him if that was even legal, and he said he had no idea.
     
    Rutager and Smurf2055 like this.
  7. Maybe these are just Coug prices...Booyah!
     
  8. True Cougs only drink Busch Light, so perhaps it was my mistake in even seeking out Russian River stuff.
     
    devlishdamsel, draheim and beertunes like this.
  9. DocJitsu

    DocJitsu Savant (440) California Dec 28, 2009

    They're not pulling out of Oregon. Or any other state for that matter. Only Washington. Their brewpub in Santa Rosa, CA generates nearly 50% of their revenue, so they needed more beer to supply the brewpub. They're not expanding, so they've got to get the beer from somewhere. Washington became the easy state to pull out of because of some new liquor laws with which I'm not familiar.
     
  10. dirtylou

    dirtylou Champion (785) Washington May 12, 2005

    Well no shit - all of those things have been said about 50 times now.

    Whole Foods - Westlake has a ton of supplication, no mark-up.

    Your QFC stories aren't helping our case :( Screw that place anyway, though
     
  11. I've always kind of wondered why RR distributes out of state at all? Seems like a gigantic state like California could easily drink up the 14,000 barrels a year that RR produces.

    Maybe at the beginning, before they knew they would be the greatest little brewery in the country...I could see it. But nowadays, I don't even know if it's necessary for them to bother with the expense of running a bottling line?
     
  12. I'm guessing he didn't read anything in the thread and just wanted to school us with his fancy learnin'.
     
    beertunes likes this.
  13. guajolote

    guajolote Savant (415) Oregon Sep 12, 2008

    At least he succinctly summed up the 5 previous pages for the TL;DR crowd. Which includes himself, apparently. o_O
     
    beertunes likes this.
  14. djbreezy

    djbreezy Advocate (510) Washington Dec 16, 2008

    They've always mentioned on their blog during the Younger releases that they are focused on keeping a small operation so this doesn't really come as a surprise. They've always been very candid and transparent in their communication as well.

    Bummer for us though. Glad I live near Portland although I don't think I've bought an RR beer in months. Too much good stuff out there!
     
    NWer likes this.
  15. CA_Infidel2o9

    CA_Infidel2o9 Savant (310) Dec 1, 2012

    Exactly. It almost seems like they are either scared or unwilling to expand any farther. Honestly, i've tried pliny and damnation and I have yet to be wow. I can't say I'm too ISO of RR as there are so many locals that I am more interested trying.
     
  16. tozerm

    tozerm Savant (375) Washington Jul 1, 2005

    This rule isn't new. It's been on the books for beer for a long, long time. The first major issues came up when Costco first rolled out the 30 or 36 pack cases about 10 years ago. This pack was designed to be a Costco exclusive product, other retailers tried to order them and were told they could not. Said retailers filed complaints with the WSLCB because that rule was already in place. Everyone has access to the same products, at the same price, and it is illegal to require the purchase of one product in order to be able to get another product. That's the way it's been the 15 years I've been in the supply side of the business. There have been NO significant changes to the beer laws due to the passage of I-1183. That initiative only applied to wine and hard liquor.
     
    beertunes likes this.
  17. tozerm

    tozerm Savant (375) Washington Jul 1, 2005

    The law was not written with breweries like RR in mind. It was written with BMC as the prime target. Anheuser Busch did try to get all their distributors to go 100% AB products by force.
     
  18. Lordkrystic

    Lordkrystic Savant (265) Washington Jul 18, 2012


    Illegal, but ignored for the most part, except for the price part.
     
  19. While I may not be an expert on beer, wine, and liquor laws, I do know my way around the general order of things when it comes to WA laws, rules, etc.

    WAC are administrative codes and are written by departments and agencies like the Washington State Liquor Control Board (WSLCB). WACs do have the force of law, though. RCW are state laws written by the legislature. WACs can only be written if the department/agency is granted specific authority to do so by the legislature --- I don't mean each specific WAC but rather that the legislature declares through an RCW that an agency shall write WACs to address areas of law.

    So, unless there is an RCW that is specific to the WAC I copied and pasted above, WSLCB can change their rules. It is MUCH easier to change rules than to change laws; although, it is not easy to do either.
     
    yojimbo1 and beertunes like this.
  20. John_M

    John_M Moderator (1,100) Oregon Oct 25, 2003 Staff Member

    It's good to recall this history from time to time; a lot of younger BA's have no memory of this behavior on the part of AB, and so are puzzled by the animus a lot of us old timers have towards AB. However, I remember well when AB engaged in this sort of behavior with their distributors in California, which resulted in a number of law suits (the one filed by St. Stan in Modesto being the most prominent IIRC). It's not something I can ever forget (or forgive).
     
  21. NWer

    NWer Advocate (660) Washington Mar 10, 2009

    Interesting discussion but I've learned way more than I wish to know. This level of detail is of no interest to me. Way over analyzed in my opinion. I wish the folks at Russian River well and am looking forward to my visit there next month for the Younger release :)
    Only difference this year is I will be bringing back more than I had originally intended.
    Carry on,
     
    Lordkrystic and beertunes like this.
  22. draheim

    draheim Poobah (1,035) Washington Sep 18, 2010

    I'd be happy to chip in a few bucks for a 20' truck rental.
     
  23. Guess you're just "keeping it real."
     
  24. bifrost17

    bifrost17 Initiate (0) Washington Dec 16, 2011

    I honestly could care less about this. I'll miss the occasional 'tion sour, but there are P L E N T Y of other awesome IPA's up here so I will not be missing Pliny too much.....with that being said, over the past 4 days I've purchased 5 bottles of Supplication. Haha gotta stock up on one of my favorite sours.
     
  25. beertunes

    beertunes Poobah (1,035) Washington Sep 24, 2007

    Northbound and down?
     
    NWer likes this.
  26. NWer

    NWer Advocate (660) Washington Mar 10, 2009

    I just had my "last" Pliny a few minutes ago and I just cannot find anything wrong with this beer. Still, I'll still get my Pliny fix once in a while and as so many others have pointed out, there are a lot of great beers out there. Even in WA. I just might have to "settle" for a Boundary Bay or Sister or Wisdom Seeker. Tough choice.
    edit: nice shot of the palette of Coors :)
     
    Lordkrystic and beertunes like this.
  27. So, you care a lot about this?
     
  28. bifrost17

    bifrost17 Initiate (0) Washington Dec 16, 2011

    Haha okay let me put it this way, I could care less about this, THE EXCEPTION BEING SUPPLICATION
     
  29. honkduh

    honkduh Savant (315) Oregon Jun 2, 2011

  30. tozerm

    tozerm Savant (375) Washington Jul 1, 2005

    Two smaller AB wholesalers that were run by personal friends of mine suffered at the hands of AB in their push for 100% exclusivity in their distributors. Both distributors were visited by their AB reps to perform a compliance audit. Believe me when I say there is a manual that the distributors have to abide by, and it is thick. The brewery rep went around the distributorship examining everything. They were written up for having duct tape on a torn forklift seat, bulbs out in exterior lighted signs, one even was written up for having dents in the metal siding on the building where it had been hit by a truck or forklift. They also were both written up for having non AB items listed first on an invoice, above AB products... They were told they needed to 100% compliant with the "rules" or their distribution agreements would be reviewed. One fixed everything, remained compliant and AB couldn't say anything about them continuing to sell non AB products. The other decided to say "screw it" and sold the business to another wholesaler and retired. The guy who decided to stay and fix everything spent 6 months, and thousands of dollars, becoming fully compliant and fixing all the "violations" on his review.
     
  31. John_M

    John_M Moderator (1,100) Oregon Oct 25, 2003 Staff Member

    I guess I have a hard time understanding why someone wouldn't have this point of view. Sure, there are plenty of great IPA's, DIPA's and other great beers made in the NW, but it's still nice to have pliny as an option. Invariably I like to get a glass of it whenever I'm in PDX or Seattle (guess it will just be PDX now), as it's a very tasty IPA/DIPA. After that, I tend to just order local stuff, or other regional stuff I can't find on the East Coast.

    Sure, I can easily make do with some of the other great IPA/DIPA's from the NW... I'm just not sure I understand why that makes Pliny else less desirable or delicious.
     
    BuckeyeOne likes this.
  32. NWer

    NWer Advocate (660) Washington Mar 10, 2009

    Hi John,
    Can't tell if you're agreeing or disagreeing with me.
    As for:
    The lack of availability will make it (not to mention the -tion's) more desirable - if that's possible - not less. Besides, you're a traveler. You know each area of the country has great beers we can't get whenever we want - or at all. Adds to the fun of sniffing these things out when we get the chance.
    BTW - I still regret we missed connections in Philly. Maybe someday.
     
  33. John_M

    John_M Moderator (1,100) Oregon Oct 25, 2003 Staff Member

    Completely agree with your point of view (which I think is nothing more than just good common sense). How could having more good beer be a bad thing, no matter how good the local selection?

    When are you going to be down in Santa Rosa? The GF and I go out for a week around that time every year for ZAP, younger, the mendocino coast (this year we're also doing the ultimate wallet burn; dinner at the French Laundry), so maybe we can meet up at some point at the brewpub. I'm sure you already know this, but I HIGHLY recommend avoiding the first two days of younger, unless you're particularly fond of 3, 4 and 5 hour waits in line. :)
     
  34. If and when RR returns to Washington, let's pass a law that makes them remove all Comic Sans font from their labels, deal?

    /jokes
     
  35. draheim

    draheim Poobah (1,035) Washington Sep 18, 2010

    On the contrary, they can print their labels in fresh bat guano if they'll reconsider pulling out.
     
    NWer likes this.
  36. NWer

    NWer Advocate (660) Washington Mar 10, 2009

    That would be fantastic. Past years it's been a trip to RR & SFBW with a little sightseening thrown in. This year though it's the opposite. Going with another couple this time & I'm the only serious beer drinker so the stops we're making such as the PtY release are purely to accommodate me. So our timing is off once again.
    In fact, last year we did the Mendocio thing and points North including Fort Bragg. I highly recommend a local watering hole we found by accident in Fort Bragg. Piaci Pizza has great pizza and a not too shabby beer list. Very friendly bar guy who had no trouble finding time to visit & slip me samples even though the place was packed. Clearly popular with the locals. Had Old Raspy on Nitro & something else from Speakeasy.
    Enjoy the North Coast (I know, by California standards). We sure do.
     
  37. dirtylou

    dirtylou Champion (785) Washington May 12, 2005

    ISO : Your French Laundry leftovers
    FT : Walez
     
    distantmantra likes this.
  38. Mages64

    Mages64 Savant (380) Washington Sep 7, 2009

    What are the other great NW IPAs/DIPAs?
    Hopvenom
    Wisdom seeker
    Double jack
    Fat tug
    Sister
    Um......... Help?
     
  39. OakedCanuck

    OakedCanuck Initiate (0) Washington Jun 23, 2009

    Thank you for including Canada in the NW (fat tug).

    Also, is Paso Robles really considered NW?
     
  40. Mages64

    Mages64 Savant (380) Washington Sep 7, 2009

    good point... double jack is just my personal favorite DIPA but i didn't realize it was central california.
    how about including:
    blue dot
    Sound's humulo nimbus
    there's gotta be more especially in bottles right?
     
    Lordkrystic likes this.

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