Has the beer selection at Whole Foods changed post-Amazon buyout?

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by eldoctorador, Oct 10, 2018.

  1. eldoctorador

    eldoctorador Zealot (526) Dec 12, 2014 California

    My local Whole Foods used to be a great place to buy beer, but now the quality of the offerings has decreased considerably. I assume this has to do with the Amazon's purchase.

    Have you seen any decline in the quality of the beers offered? Is it just my local Whole Foods?
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  2. mambossa

    mambossa Initiate (125) Jun 30, 2015 Ohio

    It usually depends on the buyer for the store, and the vendors they interact with weekly. Some vendors prefer certain accounts and will give some the “hook up” on limited stuff. Usually it is gonna be an independently-owned business, unless the WF buyer has a good in with the rep.

    I could go on ad-nauseum (as I used to be a beer and wine buyer at Whole Foods), but I don’t think Amazon’s purchase has limited any of their selections they’ve had previously (at least in my region). So, if a store is struggling to keep up with relevant brews, it could be that the buyer simply isn’t bringing the “right” stuff in. They’ll bring in what sells.
  3. beertunes

    beertunes Poo-Bah (5,432) Sep 24, 2007 Washington

    Mine is pretty good. I don't but much packaged beer there (even though they've got a nice selection), but I hit their bar for drafts and crowlers regularly. $7 crowler of anything on tap, even Imperials,? That's the only good thing about Amazon.
  4. DarkDragon999

    DarkDragon999 Aspirant (230) Feb 13, 2013 Rhode Island

    Whole Foods in Rhode Island doesnt sell alcohol. Have no idea if they will ever get with the program. :slight_smile:
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  5. zid

    zid Champion (878) Feb 15, 2010 New York

    Some Whole Foods around here shifted partial focus away from beer long before the Amazon situation.
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  6. jzeilinger

    jzeilinger Poo-Bah (5,877) Dec 4, 2004 Pennsylvania

    Our local Whole Foods is currently "decent" but to @mambossa 's point, I saw a change early in the year when their head beer buyer (Amy) left. It hasn't been the same since and I don't stop by as often as I used to. What I do like - they support our local brewers. What I don't like, the tap beers are now leaning towards the more mundane stuff (which I'm cool with), but the "special brews" have definitely dropped off compared to how it "used" to be.
  7. Ceddd99

    Ceddd99 Initiate (78) May 14, 2018 Michigan

    My local whole foods is a decent place to buy beer. Not the greatest selection, but they have a fairly large singles isle and the prices are lower than liquor stores and specialty beer shops.
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  8. rozzom

    rozzom Crusader (700) Jan 22, 2011 New York

    In NYC most (all maybe? there are a couple I don’t go to) WF have stepped down their beer game, but that was a pre-Amazon thing
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  9. ilikebeer03

    ilikebeer03 Champion (819) Oct 17, 2012 Texas

    The Whole Foods in Houston (Galleria area) actually has a brewery in the store. They have about 10 of their own beers and 10 guest taps on typically.
  10. Mothergoose03

    Mothergoose03 Poo-Bah (2,277) May 30, 2005 Michigan

    A few years ago I came across a Whole Foods that also had a brewery associated with it. I think it was in San Jose but I'd have to search back in my records to be sure.
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  11. ilikebeer03

    ilikebeer03 Champion (819) Oct 17, 2012 Texas

    The beers they're making are surprisingly good.
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  12. Harrison8

    Harrison8 Poo-Bah (2,517) Dec 6, 2015 Missouri
    Premium Trader

    We finally got a Whole Foods on the Missouri side of Kansas City, and I'd say the beer selection is a little above average for a grocery store (or HyVee grocery store chain usually has a pretty darn good selection). Whole Food's taplist is fairly impressive, and has become my go-to list to check for growler fills over several local liquor stores.

    Can't speak to their selection before Amazon, as prior to being bought out they only had two locations in the metro area, both of which are 30+ minutes away from me.
    brutalfarce likes this.
  13. drtth

    drtth Poo-Bah (3,568) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    Want to second @zid on this one.

    Around here those changes in Whole Foods beer offerings were showing before the Amazon purchase.

    Some years before the purchase, apparently as a cost cutting measure, Whole Foods here in PA went from having an individual beer manger for each store to a centralized decision maker who coordinated cross store purchasing for multiple stores. (There was some local discussion of this in the Mid-Atlantic forum since some BAs knew these folks who were losing jobs.)

    This change seems to have triggered a decline in diversity of offerings. E.g., there's a Whole Foods I used to stop at on the way to or home from visiting family where I could count on finding certain types of beers (e.g., Tilquin Gueuze, Boon Mariage Parfait, etc.) to add to my cellar. After the centralization but long before the Amazon purchase that type of stuff gradually disappeared from shelves as the existing stock got sold.
  14. tobelerone

    tobelerone Poo-Bah (2,252) Dec 1, 2010 New York

    Echoing the sentiments from other NYers, things were in a slow slide; since Amazon bought the company things definitely haven’t gotten better.

    My WF had a fabulous beer manager for years, then a solid one, then a friendly but inexperienced newbie, now no one in particular...
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  15. readyski

    readyski Aspirant (224) Jun 4, 2005 California

    I can't say I shop at Whole Paycheck strictly for beer but their selection is serviceable and worth doing a once over.
    brutalfarce likes this.
  16. MRN

    MRN Initiate (144) Jul 20, 2007 Virginia

    The Whole Foods Market at The Alameda in San Jose has Floodcraft Brewing next to it.
  17. NeroFiddled

    NeroFiddled Poo-Bah (9,920) Jul 8, 2002 Pennsylvania

    100% agreed on this except that there was also an immediate increase in prices as well.

    As it stands I no longer consider Whole Foods as an option for beer unless I just happen to be by there. The selection is limited, prices are no longer clearly marked, the shelves aren't even stocked, and the prices have gone up to the point that I can just go to a specialty shop and pay the same premium. I'm talking specifically about SE PA but I've found the same thing while traveling throughout the country.
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  18. NeroFiddled

    NeroFiddled Poo-Bah (9,920) Jul 8, 2002 Pennsylvania

    Are you sure you're not thinking of Trader Joe's?
  19. ilikebeer03

    ilikebeer03 Champion (819) Oct 17, 2012 Texas

    Certain that I'm not talking about Trader Joe's. Though, the beers they make (contract brew, I believe? are pretty good and at a great price, too.)

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  20. Giantspace

    Giantspace Defender (648) Dec 22, 2011 Pennsylvania

    Same thoughts here. I have not been the the Plymouth Meeting store in years. I used to stop by grab a beer and food and sit on the roof. It became too expensive as prices just went up and up and the food quality went down.

    The bottle selection in the cold room was really good and the prices were great. If you had a $40 case of beer the WF basicly was selling a six pack for $10. No more. Growlers got to the point that a six pack of the same beer was much cheaper.

    Shelves have no prices or wrong prices. I was told just have the cashier scan it for you. No thanks. I am not bringing every beer I’m interested in out to a cashier and/or waiting in line for that service.

    When they first opened I was there every week. I got RR sours for $8 each and many other great beers. I even walked in to a 20% off sale one day.

    Last time I was there the cold room had a ton of pretty generic beer. Gone were the nice gueze and other Belgian styles. PBR was now there along with other things like corona and Heineken. Paying the bills I guess. Where there used to be many different breweries represented that had been reduced by a lot.

    The large wall still had many bottles that were pretty nice but not everyday drinking beer.

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  21. Mattttt

    Mattttt Initiate (44) Feb 20, 2018 New York

    can confirm whole foods in nyc and brooklyn used to have great stuff and now rarely has anything good.
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  22. bgold86

    bgold86 Savant (904) Apr 1, 2015 New York
    Premium Trader

    WF in NYC has taken a huge hit in terms of variety and quantity.
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  23. IPAExpert69

    IPAExpert69 Initiate (156) Aug 2, 2017 New Jersey

    They will never get the proper recognition, but Giant (the grocery store chain) has a tremendous beer section in almost all their stores in Pennsylvania. Really good selection, not just a shitty mix a 6 and macros like acme etc.
  24. NeroFiddled

    NeroFiddled Poo-Bah (9,920) Jul 8, 2002 Pennsylvania

    This is something that boggles my mind. I've always thought of WF as a place to buy interesting foods, and their selection of cheeses, breads, seafoods, and produce used to be great. So who are these people that are buying basic, fairly bland beers? If you have high quality tastes in one thing, shouldn't it be across the board? Are you going to pair a nice piece of Stilton and a fresh baguette with a bottle of Corona? Are you going to pair fresh Blue Point oysters with a bottle of Andre Brut? What about your "Leek and Potato gratin with Smoked Salmon and Brie" (an actual WF recipe) with PBR? It makes no sense. Why pay extra for specialty foods and then drink crap? Can these people not taste food if it's not a solid? Uggghhhh. Rant over. Enjoy your prime rib and Landshark.
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  25. bgold86

    bgold86 Savant (904) Apr 1, 2015 New York
    Premium Trader

    Pre-Amazon acquisition decision by management to move away from variety and gear towards a few skews. Have discussed this with multiple WF beer buyers and distro peeps. WF is not really a place for craft beer anymore in NYC.
  26. NeroFiddled

    NeroFiddled Poo-Bah (9,920) Jul 8, 2002 Pennsylvania

    Well that looks awesome! I think that WF should have focused more on local beers from day one, but whatever. My response to @Giantspace above shows that even people who are willing to spend an entire paycheck are not entirely of taste and not only willing, but want to buy basic or mediocre beers. This is why some craft brewers are now turning to making basic lagers - people want to buy something different, but they don't really want something different, only the impression of it.
    ilikebeer03 likes this.
  27. eldoctorador

    eldoctorador Zealot (526) Dec 12, 2014 California

    Thanks for your response. Is there any way I can give feedback to my store? Probably not, but maybe they haven't realized that the quality has decreased (if they don't have a beer person).
  28. bgold86

    bgold86 Savant (904) Apr 1, 2015 New York
    Premium Trader

    FYI, at least in NYC, the beer buyer no longer has the buying power they used to. For the most part the orders are placed or confirmed by someone at corporate.
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  29. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,637) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    As has been discussed by a number of others in this thread the beer selection and pricing really changed in the Whole Foods in SEPA a few years ago (pre-Amazon purchase).

    I used to buy beers from my local Whole Foods (Devon. PA) but after the beer buyer (Joe) left and shortly thereafter the prices significantly increased I stopped shopping there. It has been over 2 years since I have purchased beer from a Whole Foods store.

  30. mambossa

    mambossa Initiate (125) Jun 30, 2015 Ohio

    It couldn’t hurt to reach out, so I’d say go for it.

    Yeah, they started integrating a new OTS (order to shelf) system, but this was years after I left. For the beer department (and other depts as well), I’ve heard there is a pre-set order based off of inventory to eliminate back stock, however these orders are able to be modified and added on to.

    One could still order extra cases that are not on the order, but as you said, it probably has to get verified first that it’s not an unnecessary amount that would mess up inventory too badly.

    Overall, old co-workers just said the system is forcing them to order less.
  31. Giantspace

    Giantspace Defender (648) Dec 22, 2011 Pennsylvania

    When the PM wF opened the pub I was told it would be a full focus on local beers. That lasted not too long.

  32. Mothergoose03

    Mothergoose03 Poo-Bah (2,277) May 30, 2005 Michigan

    That brewery name does not ring a bell so I looked in my records to see where I had been. You have The Alameda location correct, but my notes say the brewery's name is Mission Creek Brewing. It has an open-air, second floor setting at one end of the Whole Foods building with exterior stairs to get up there. It is still in the BA database under that name. https://www.beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/38396/ Possibly a (recent) name change has occurred since 9/2/16 when I was there and the database hasn't been updated?
  33. Mothergoose03

    Mothergoose03 Poo-Bah (2,277) May 30, 2005 Michigan

    I generally liked them and gave an overall average rating of 3.78.
  34. Socialillness

    Socialillness Initiate (45) May 9, 2018 New York

    I was to frequent whole foods in Columbus circle in NYC but they lost their edge.. Had to take my money to food emporium on 49 st.. Their more expensive but they have a great selections... Love that they carry sloop and lic beer project now
  35. bgold86

    bgold86 Savant (904) Apr 1, 2015 New York
    Premium Trader

    Hm, do you world at FE?
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  36. Ten_SeventySix_Brewhouse

    Ten_SeventySix_Brewhouse Initiate (127) Jul 20, 2016 Arizona

    It just depends on lots of things, real estate included. Here in the Phoenix area, one whole foods I go to has maybe half of an aisle devoted to mostly craft beer and maybe 5 taps, but no bar to drink at. The other store is much bigger and has several restaurants, a coffee shop, and separate meat and seafood counters. They have a whole long aisle devoted to beer, plus an endcap or two. Plus, it's all stored cold. Then, they have a bar with maybe 20 or so taps for pints or growler fills.

    I still prefer to shop at my local bottle shops, mostly to buy singles, but that WF is a good destination if I'm in the area and looking for something uncommon but not too rare.
  37. Socialillness

    Socialillness Initiate (45) May 9, 2018 New York

    I wouldn't last a day as I drown in all that beer :grin:
  38. Ceddd99

    Ceddd99 Initiate (78) May 14, 2018 Michigan

    My local Whole Foods has sold PBR, Corona and other large commercial beers as far back as I remember. I am guilty of buying PBR there a few times back in the day. It makes sense they would carry these beers. PBR was a popular hipster beer a few years ago and I've seen a number of people buying it at Whole Foods. Remember Whole Foods is a pretty mainstream store these days and lots of people who appreciate better food selection but don't have sophisticated tastes in beer, shop there. Some people don't even know enough about beer to know what other styles they might like, and don't want to spend the money testing out imperial IPAs and stouts when they are perfectly happy with Bud Light.
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  39. ktr5010

    ktr5010 Initiate (69) Dec 12, 2014 Illinois

    I'll echo what others have said mainly that the quality is pretty good. But in the Chicagoland area I still see very large discrepancies in quality from store to store (post Amazon acquisition) which makes me think there are still individual beer people at each store.
    FBarber likes this.
  40. ecpho

    ecpho Aspirant (226) Mar 28, 2011 New York

    I think the Cambridge, MA WF has had a great selection but in the last few years the hazy IPAs have taken over shelf space from more beer I'd like to drink. In NYC the Bryant Park location, closest to me, has lost something now that I think about it.