Bootleg Heady Topper at bars: Your thoughts?

Discussion in 'New England' started by emannths, Apr 10, 2013.


Do you approve of MA bars illegally importing and selling Heady Topper?

  1. Yes

    39 vote(s)
  2. No

    55 vote(s)
  3. Maybe/More complicated

    24 vote(s)
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  1. emannths

    emannths Initiate (191) Sep 21, 2007 Massachusetts

    I'm curious what y'all think about bootleg HT being sold by Boston-area bars.

    Part of why I ask is that I'm personally quite conflicted. On one hand, I don't like that these bars aren't playing by the same rules as other bars that are unwilling to break the law. They're also taking beer out of the hands of individuals who travel to the Alchemist to purchase HT for legal, personal use. There's also the tax issue, but that's of minor concern to me.

    On the other hand, I'm happy to have the opportunity to buy HT here if I so choose without having to lug my lazy butt up to VT. I don't think state laws that limit the importation of beer do much besides protect wholesalers. And I suspect a great deal of HT purchases by individuals is either given/traded/sold to others and/or crosses state lines, both of which are technically illegal.

    Ultimately, I'm surprised that these guys have been serving bootleg beer so publicly for so long without repercussions. So I guess if the oft-anal ABCC doesn't care, who am I to give it second thought?
  2. jtdolla911

    jtdolla911 Initiate (0) Nov 18, 2011 Massachusetts
    Beer Trader

    Are you sure that what theyre doing is illegal? Since distro is currently unavailable n the area, does paying taxes make the sale legal? Is there any way that they could be doing it legally with an agreement in place with the distro or state gov?
  3. mcBrewsAlot

    mcBrewsAlot Initiate (178) Dec 3, 2008 Massachusetts

    Is it bootleg because it can't be sold in MA? If not, what's the big deal if a bar spends 6+ hours bringing 6 cases of HT down to MA Monday/Wednesday? They are just helping to spread the wealth. Plus they are buying it at retail, not wholesale. As long as they aren't ripping people off at the markup, what's the big deal?
  4. cbeer88

    cbeer88 Crusader (719) Sep 5, 2007 Massachusetts

    I'm totally in the "it's complicated" camp. I personally have no issue with them breaking ridiculous laws. But, I also think it is completely unfair to the bars that play by the rules.

    I actually don't care about HT that much. I've had my fill, and it's easy enough to acquire (well, tougher lately, but still) a ton of it in Vermont.

    What I care about a lot more is all the other secret grey area kegs that get quietly rolled in from time to time. I'd really hate to see HT blow up their spot due to its popularity.
  5. pjl44

    pjl44 Initiate (0) Oct 3, 2008 Massachusetts

    I'm less bothered by the practice than I am about the busybodies who perpetually make a big deal out of this every time a local bar announces they have some.
  6. pjl44

    pjl44 Initiate (0) Oct 3, 2008 Massachusetts

    There is a greater chance of said spot being blown up by people wringing their hands about it in a public forum than if everyone just rolled with it.
  7. cbeer88

    cbeer88 Crusader (719) Sep 5, 2007 Massachusetts

    I doubt it - some form of this conversation has been had many times over. Wasn't Eastern Standard even profiled in The Globe with an article about bootlegging HT or something? The powers that be seem to really not care about online stuff at least.
  8. Herky21

    Herky21 Crusader (717) Aug 7, 2011 Iowa
    Beer Trader

    This happened in Iowa with DFH beers. As I heard, DFH was upset for a number of legitimate reasons.

    I think that it puts the Brewery at legal risk and that I disagree with. Breweries spend a lot of time and effort in marketing, picking out the bars where they want their product, and making sure that they are following the laws so they can keep making beer. I think the bar is taking a lot of power out of the brewery's hands and creating a conflict that shouldn't exist.
  9. emannths

    emannths Initiate (191) Sep 21, 2007 Massachusetts

    Peter King wrote about it. See item 10(k) here.
    cappy201 likes this.
  10. Patrick

    Patrick Initiate (0) Aug 13, 2007 Massachusetts

    I have a feeling the people at The Alchemist know where the beer is going when they sell it to people from bars. Which is worse, being a drug dealer or using drugs?
  11. pjl44

    pjl44 Initiate (0) Oct 3, 2008 Massachusetts

    I guess. I just get annoyed when people wag their fingers at these bars like gossiping aunts. As a consumer, how am I losing in this situation? I'm being given access to beers I might not otherwise be able to procure and it's not like I have to stick my neck out.
  12. emannths

    emannths Initiate (191) Sep 21, 2007 Massachusetts

    That's kinda the conclusion that I came to as well. The downsides, from a MA consumer side, are almost nil.
  13. SpeedwayJim

    SpeedwayJim Poo-Bah (2,258) Jun 19, 2009 New York
    Beer Trader

    Exactly this. The Alchemist Cannery case limits on HT actually encourage bars to drive out there, pick up as much as possible, and then drive it back and "distribute it". The Alchemist knows what's going on. They know where their beer is going. If they don't care, why should I?
    FrankLloydMike and sandman3479 like this.
  14. WeymouthMike

    WeymouthMike Devotee (455) Jun 22, 2004 Massachusetts
    Beer Trader

  15. fredmugs

    fredmugs Poo-Bah (1,527) Aug 11, 2012 Indiana
    Beer Trader

    The part about increasing production and distributing to Boston. If true that negates the "bootleg" assumption.

    "Once fall rolls around and we have increased our capacity, we believe we will have enough Heady Topper to send to the Boston area on a regular basis."
  16. sandman3479

    sandman3479 Devotee (409) Dec 8, 2006 Connecticut
    Beer Trader

    This never happened. Yet.
    franklinn likes this.
  17. omniscientcause

    omniscientcause Initiate (0) Jun 4, 2010 District of Columbia

    They are cracking them on a Wednesday night I don't really think this is a big night where a lot of people go out. They aren't really taking the draw away from other bars IMO.

    That being said I could care less its no different than someone going up there buying 6 cases to trade and in this case many more people will be able to enjoy heady
  18. WeymouthMike

    WeymouthMike Devotee (455) Jun 22, 2004 Massachusetts
    Beer Trader

    And as long as it sells out at the brewery each week, it's highly unlikey it will. First step would be to increase Vt. distribution and then move out further after the demand has been met. Why increase your expenses(distribution) and decrease your profit to make the people of Boston happy when you can sit back and let them come to you.
  19. sandman3479

    sandman3479 Devotee (409) Dec 8, 2006 Connecticut
    Beer Trader

    Yup, get back to the middle and Southern part of the state. I remember when they pulled out of Rutland. That sucked.
  20. lostsurf24

    lostsurf24 Initiate (0) Nov 13, 2007 Massachusetts

    When I was a the Alchemist in Feb we spoke to the people working outside for a minute. They were certainly deep in construction and working up. They mentioned that it was part of expansion and production. When I was there a few weeks back it was early and snowing so I didnt actually look again but nothing seemed to have changed inside.

    It's funny because I want to go get a can or two tonight for dinner. But at the same time I still have some in the fridge so is it worth it? Its more just the point of getting it somewhere social.

    Having it on tap a t Pro Pig a few weeks back was a treat though. That an Harlan.

    Now the Heady $1 draught night...wish I hadn't missed that!
  21. halfshell

    halfshell Aspirant (279) Nov 30, 2008 Massachusetts

    Not that I could really care one way or the other, but I'd rather see the state going after businesses who are most likely not paying any fees/taxes on these HT imports than going after places for filling off-brand growlers. Though I really think it would be a waste to go after either one...

    Well, perhaps the message is really that it looks like they won't actually go after either one... Especially since one of them actually would protect their coffers...
  22. sandman3479

    sandman3479 Devotee (409) Dec 8, 2006 Connecticut
    Beer Trader

    They successfully doubled production by the start of March (maybe a week or 2 before), and are close to tripling original production.
    fredmugs likes this.
  23. lostsurf24

    lostsurf24 Initiate (0) Nov 13, 2007 Massachusetts

    Awesome, answers my question! It was freezing last time and we need to be in the long line so I never looked!
  24. mcBrewsAlot

    mcBrewsAlot Initiate (178) Dec 3, 2008 Massachusetts

    When was that? and were?
  25. geocool

    geocool Initiate (175) Jun 21, 2006 Massachusetts

    I don't approve of illegal activity, and I especially don't like that it adds to the hype surrounding this beer. I'm never going to order a beer that you have to ask about because it's not on the menu. This may be what craft beer is becoming, but it's just not me.
  26. lostsurf24

    lostsurf24 Initiate (0) Nov 13, 2007 Massachusetts

    Pro Pig for the their anniversary night. From what the girl told us the keg kicked in 4 hours. We happened to be there when the new keg went on tap!
  27. dunix

    dunix Initiate (0) Jan 26, 2011 Vermont

    Vermont is a small state, yet you can really only find Heady (in limited amounts) in 2 general areas, I see no reason why any Vermonter would be ok with Mass getting cans legally or illegally. Also, it is total crap that these bars sell cans for 15+ a piece.
    Brad007 likes this.
  28. cbeer88

    cbeer88 Crusader (719) Sep 5, 2007 Massachusetts

    You're probably right about not losing, but it does hurt the other bars that don't do it. A bar announcing HT cans will draw in a crowd, and some of that crowd might come at the expense of your favorite bar. Minor, maybe, but there is obviously value in it or else bars wouldn't bother sending people on a 6 hour round trip drive for some beer.
  29. pjl44

    pjl44 Initiate (0) Oct 3, 2008 Massachusetts

    Sure, but unless I own the bar or have friends that do, I have no vested interest in their success or failure. And that's even assuming that HT cans have any impact at all, aside from the days they happen to be available. Further, I think I've seen HT cans offered at each of the bars I would consider my favorites.
  30. jacksback

    jacksback Initiate (0) Jul 20, 2011 Massachusetts

    Wow. So even if a bar is a solid, well run place that plays by the rules, you've got no interest in their success or failure?

    Isn't simply having more good beer bars in the area a worthwhile reason to hope for their success?

    Seems like a whole lot of self-centered-ness lately concerning issues like this.

    On the issue of "bootleg HT" floating around... meh, don't really think opinions matter so much. The bars that can have someone drive up to get HT and bring it back... will do so. Sure, they're technically risking some legal trouble it seems, but the odds of anything actually happening seem pretty slim. And while as Cbeer mentions, it's not entirely fair to bars that "play by the rules" - I doubt occasional availability of HT cans will make or break any bar.
  31. geocool

    geocool Initiate (175) Jun 21, 2006 Massachusetts

    And this is what America has become. Why care about anything unless you have a personal financial investment in it?
  32. cbeer88

    cbeer88 Crusader (719) Sep 5, 2007 Massachusetts

    Heady Topper has been legitimately distributed to the area a couple of times. Only certain bars have been bootlegging it.
  33. lostsurf24

    lostsurf24 Initiate (0) Nov 13, 2007 Massachusetts

    Because that is what high school, college, business and work has taught us. No matter what in life people will always just cover their own ass. In reality you make your own choices. I understand at a personal level we want others to be successful and happy. That is part of being human. But in business that bar is giving nothing to me in return for their success. So why SHOULD anyone but employees have a vested interest in the company. That's why companies offer stock and investment. To try and keep employees loyal to their company. Money doesn't buy you happiness. But it's hard to care or be happy without it!

    Although.....If you treat me well, give me little tips here and there about a product you have I want, get to know me as a person, maybe give me a break once in a while I might just come back as a repeat consumer at the personal level. But I still have no vested interest in your business. Just as you would continue to serve me beer even if I was going broke and my family was starving. Because business is business...
    pjl44 and SpeedwayJim like this.
  34. willbm3

    willbm3 Initiate (0) Feb 19, 2010 Massachusetts

    I feel similarly conflicted as the OP. I suppose it's good for MA consumers (unless they're getting gouged), but I don't feel comfortable supporting illegal activity. Sure it's trivial, but they're illegally importing and reselling a product not labelled for resale without paying the appropriate duties. I also don't like that bars willing to bend the rules get a competitive advantage. Not that it will necessarily make or break any other bar, but they're creating an artificial point of competition that will always be in their favor.

    Frankly I'm surprised that these places are so public about their bootleg activities. I though I read somewhere that Eastern Standard got in trouble, but a quick Google search couldn't find the article so I'm not sure.

    It's not a huge deal, but I guarantee each and every one of you would be PISSED if you made the trip and couldn't buy any Heady because a few "enterprising" MA bars cleaned them out.
  35. BearsOnAcid

    BearsOnAcid Savant (956) Mar 17, 2009 Massachusetts
    Beer Trader

    I wish bars would bootleg more HF instead of heady.
    benbking and willbm3 like this.
  36. SpeedwayJim

    SpeedwayJim Poo-Bah (2,258) Jun 19, 2009 New York
    Beer Trader

    Will this be the last expansion? I thought I heard somewhere that the Alchemist had stated they will not expand further after they get to a certain point.

    Also, if they triple production, I'm sure they'll triple the case limit also... you know, so that it completely negates the production increase in terms of availability.
    FrankLloydMike likes this.
  37. sandman3479

    sandman3479 Devotee (409) Dec 8, 2006 Connecticut
    Beer Trader

    The doubling and tripling was all in the same phase. Supposedly their next is their last.
  38. pjl44

    pjl44 Initiate (0) Oct 3, 2008 Massachusetts

    Yes, including the bars that I would consider my favorites.
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