Misconceptions about beer distribution

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by Misrahi, Jan 27, 2013.

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  1. devlishdamsel

    devlishdamsel Initiate (0) Aug 1, 2009 Washington

    My understanding is that the laws regarding this are different for every state. Unless i worked for a distributor or had actually studied my state laws regarding this, I would NOT presume to know exactly how this process worked. As I am curious about perhaps working in the industry, I do actually plan to study the laws of my state regarding this.
    chefkevlar and IceAce like this.
  2. skunkpuddle

    skunkpuddle Aspirant (259) Feb 14, 2011 California
    Beer Trader

    It's a good thing everybody has you to steer them straight
  3. beerinmaine

    beerinmaine Initiate (0) Jun 20, 2009 Maine

    Zero BMC. "worst" beer in the place is Shipyard, and only a small amount of that in 6-packs.
  4. DelMontiac

    DelMontiac Initiate (0) Oct 22, 2010 Oklahoma

    I guess you didn't read the whole thread or you missed the point. Cheers for now.
  5. otispdriftwood

    otispdriftwood Defender (637) Dec 9, 2011 Colorado
    Subscriber Beer Trader

    Looks like most of the posts on this thread can be put into these words:
    Beer distributors are no different from any other business that operates in a capitalist economic system. Maximize profits, minimize costs, etc. and do it in a way that rewards those who have contributed to the profits or helped defray the costs. Simple economics.
    SidSquid and SammyJaxxxx like this.
  6. EddieGold

    EddieGold Initiate (0) Nov 22, 2012 North Carolina

    Why does it take so long for certain beers to make it to my market? Chapel Hill, NC.
    Example: Hopslam came out three weeks ago, i think, and i havent seen i yet. On the the other hand, when Lagunitas Sucks came out i bought a case that was 6 days old.

    i dont understand
  7. aasher

    aasher Poo-Bah (2,572) Jan 27, 2010 Indiana
    Beer Trader

    Misconception: A store can special order any beer for you. I can't tell you how many times I've explained this and then been asked if I could order something that isn't even distributed in the US.
    chefkevlar and PeterJ like this.
  8. yamar68

    yamar68 Initiate (0) Apr 1, 2011 Minnesota

    They have a giant slingshot.
  9. PeterJ

    PeterJ Initiate (69) Dec 5, 2012 California

    Their distributors usually decide who gets it.

    "we allocate based on overall support
    of the Shelton Brothers portfolio. Since there's never enough for all of
    our customers, we sometimes have to allocate on a rotating basis"

    They are very fair about who gets what.

    Ill add a misconception. When Pliny the Elder is out of stock, stores really don't know when they're getting it back in unless its about to be delivered.
  10. chefkevlar

    chefkevlar Disciple (336) Apr 17, 2010 South Carolina
    Beer Trader

    Hopslam shipped from Bell's to NC on the 21st.
  11. westcoastbeerlvr

    westcoastbeerlvr Poo-Bah (1,788) Oct 19, 2010 California

    Sounds like most of the bottle shops in my area. Doesn't mean that they actually have any decent special releases. I don't have the money to spend on every random Mikkeller bottle that a bottle shop can get.
  12. AxesandAnchors

    AxesandAnchors Initiate (0) Nov 21, 2012 Oregon

    Wrong, there is nothing capitalistic about the three tiered system. If the industry truly worked within a capitalistic system the breweries, or makers of goods, would be free to sell to whomever they wished. There would be no control over their distribution rights. They would then be free to self distribute or use a private distributor. Distributors wouldn't be dictating the laws. And In this scenario the breweries would be emboldened with the power and the free market would actually be at work. Which means better competition and a more favorable outcome for both the producers and end consumers.
  13. EddieGold

    EddieGold Initiate (0) Nov 22, 2012 North Carolina

    it still isnt out!!
  14. chefkevlar

    chefkevlar Disciple (336) Apr 17, 2010 South Carolina
    Beer Trader

    No, it isn't. Lots of factors to consider logistically speaking but it's only been in transit for 8 days, not 3 weeks. My guess is that it will actually be released to retailers in NC next week as I've heard that Tryon wants to get it to every account within the same week. Last year there were two shipments and some accounts didn't get theirs at the same time as others in the same city.
    gothedistance likes this.
  15. Mebuzzard

    Mebuzzard Poo-Bah (3,464) May 19, 2005 Colorado

    Perhaps an odd misconception is that a distributor cares about the beer. While some do, most others clearly do not. Distribution is a business, and the beer is something to sell....a lot of. Storage? Market spread? Freshness? Who cares? As long as it sells.
    TMoney2591 likes this.
  16. Onizilla

    Onizilla Initiate (0) Apr 25, 2009 New York
    Beer Trader

    Actually they won't allow it to go to any package store, on-site premise only (bars) and they all but hand select who is allowed to get it.
  17. Brokentalontsi

    Brokentalontsi Initiate (0) Nov 10, 2012 Texas

    I think this is a reasonably accurate post... Most of the people I work with could care less whether they sold beer or sodas or tortillas. Along the lines of freshness, the two primary distros around here show the extremes on both sides. Out of date beer at my company gets you fired if it is a consistent issue, the miller/coors distributor here provides its salesmen with empty blank boxes to repack old beer so that the box doesn't show the expiration date.

    On the topic of special releases, I know at our place the breweries themselves have input into the allocations and we are a big ass company, 45 million cases a year. And generally it's not like we are playing favorites or anything, but if acct X sells 50 cases of Sierra Nevada a month and store Y sells 5, then it would make sense that they get a larger portion of the allocation. Hell, we have 10,000 accts serviced out of one warehouse here and every store that's sales craft beer wants the limited releases and why wouldn't they, it's the closest thing to free money there is. Buy, sell at 30% margin, profit.
    chefkevlar likes this.
  18. ouits

    ouits Initiate (0) Jul 24, 2012 Ohio

    I work at a distributor, not much love in this thread :wink:. I'll toss this one out:

    Distributors have less control over their own inventory than you may think. Already carry 4 skus of the same liquid? Well, pick up a 5th because it's in next quarters Wal-Mart ad and Wal-Mart does 15% of your business. Distribs can be jerked around by breweries the same way that AxesandAnchors says retailers can receive it. I know for a fact a well-loved craft brewery on this site does this. We want product X but can't get it because we don't fit their market profile, yet we have never heard of product Y and 3x 1/6bbls show up that we didn't order. It's the way she goes!
  19. PeterJ

    PeterJ Initiate (69) Dec 5, 2012 California

    What do you mean by package store?
  20. Onizilla

    Onizilla Initiate (0) Apr 25, 2009 New York
    Beer Trader

    Package store meaning a place that sells beer/beverages and such. In NY anyway, That's how it's handled. They refuse to ship it to any place that isn't for on-site consumption (bar). It's a pretty big downer.
  21. otispdriftwood

    otispdriftwood Defender (637) Dec 9, 2011 Colorado
    Subscriber Beer Trader

    OK so let me correct myself. REGULATED capitalist system.
    jacksback likes this.
  22. PeterJ

    PeterJ Initiate (69) Dec 5, 2012 California

    Strange. I had no idea. I should have made it clear that the quote was from the California distributor b
  23. digdug1810

    digdug1810 Aspirant (264) Mar 1, 2011 New Jersey
    Beer Trader

    haha thanks. I was more just joking with the question, I know the loons are highly soft after and how shelton goes about getting them to stores and how you either know the beer guy at a store to get a bottle these days or you just happen to be in the store when they get it.. they don't last long anywhere anymore. I lucked out and got a 375 of Classic Gueuze this year.. that was it, easier to find loons on tap then in bottles at shops.. when on tap it's normally special events so there are tons of other great brews to try too!
  24. maltmaster420

    maltmaster420 Aspirant (295) Aug 17, 2005 Oregon
    Beer Trader

    Dude, you're in Portland, and you've never been to a place that has less than 25% "junk" on the shelf? You've either got a strange definition of junk, or you've never been to Beermongers, Belmont Station, Saraveza, Hop & Vine, Bridgetown, or Beaumont Market.
  25. maltmaster420

    maltmaster420 Aspirant (295) Aug 17, 2005 Oregon
    Beer Trader

    That must be a decision made by whoever distributes Shelton stuff in NY, because that sure as heck isn't the case in Oregon.
  26. Onizilla

    Onizilla Initiate (0) Apr 25, 2009 New York
    Beer Trader

    I wouldn't doubt it, Stuff in NY is completely wonky.
  27. AxesandAnchors

    AxesandAnchors Initiate (0) Nov 21, 2012 Oregon

    I've been to all of them, and they all have a certain amount of junk on their shelves. That's not to say I don't love some of them, I do, I was just simply stating that every bottle shop I've ever been to has a certain amount of this filling up space. I define junk as poorly made craft beer, beer I don't want to drink (not because of style, but because it sucks).
  28. beerinmaine

    beerinmaine Initiate (0) Jun 20, 2009 Maine

    Well, in this case, a number of special releases that have gone to only one store in the state. Also, De Dolle Stille Nacht Reserva '10, when nobody else knew it even existed.

    So, yes, it IS possible to open a new bottle shop, get really great stuff, and NOT carry piles of crap.
    westcoastbeerlvr likes this.
  29. Errto

    Errto Initiate (0) Oct 20, 2009 Connecticut

    I have bought Cantillon at a store in NY, but it's rare to find nowadays and only very few stores ever get any. I imagine it's much the same elsewhere.
  30. russmann

    russmann Initiate (0) Oct 3, 2007 Idaho

    I get my first Cantillon tomorrow. Thanks for asking :slight_smile:

    Ultimately consumers drive the market. If you're buying all your Torpedo at the grocery store because it's fifty cents cheaper than at your craft beer store, you're screwing the craft beer store out of having a better relationship with Sierra and getting more of the good stuff, which ultimately means you don't get the good stuff, for example.

    My suggestion is to find the people you like the best, and support that craft store with *all* of your beer purchases. If they don't inventory your favorite beer, ask them to bring it in for you and buy the whole case. Help increase their overall purchasing power. Also, if you want the high end stuff, don't sweat insignificant price differences. The brands and distributors know which accounts are trading on "cheap cheap cheap" and which are trading on quality, knowledge and service. Guess where they're going to offer that case of rare stuff?

    Additionally, forming a relationship with your best craft store means you'll be the first to know when the good stuff comes in. Be a good customer, help the good craft stores be good customers of the distributor and brewery, and the end result is you get the good products.
  31. russmann

    russmann Initiate (0) Oct 3, 2007 Idaho

    I'll bet the "new" store has some people who have a relationship with the supply chain and aren't really "new" to the business. I know nothing about it, but my guess is it's a relationship that's guiding these acquisitions.
  32. beerinmaine

    beerinmaine Initiate (0) Jun 20, 2009 Maine

    People don't open beer geek stores if they're new to the business. People who are totally new to the business work as cashiers in stores, or.....etc. (for example, I'm not "in" the business at all, but I've been drinking good beer long enough to know enough people that if I decided to open a store or a brewery or whatever, I'd have a good network of contacts already. Many of us are like this.)

    The earlier assertion was that a new store can't get good distribution without carrying crap. Not true. How they achieve not-crap, is another story.
    russmann likes this.
  33. Chaney

    Chaney Initiate (0) Apr 20, 2006 District of Columbia

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  34. Outbespoken

    Outbespoken Initiate (0) Apr 6, 2012 Indiana

    When I lived in Pennsylvania this was not the case. They have a license in that state that allows owners to travel and buy beer. "Transport License" Tt is a big contributor to why House of 1000 beers outside of Pittsburgh gets such awesome shit (Pliny, Heady, etc. etc.)
    chefkevlar likes this.
  35. russmann

    russmann Initiate (0) Oct 3, 2007 Idaho

    Well put.

    However I do see in some markets people opening stores that don't give a dime for the good beer, other than they can make a buck. In Seattle for example, a nice Korean man turned a C-store into a craft store. He and his wife split up, so now there's a nice Korean woman who doesn't give two spits for beer, just for money, but has all this stale product around because she does nothing but stock it and sell it.

    Not exactly a new business, but maybe an example of a bad place for craft beer. In my region there's another C-store setup that the distributors just pack with product, but he doesn't sell it fast. They pulled 60 Minute IPA from our market a few years back, and 2 years later I still saw it on his shelf. To me this is bad news. But it's a completely different problem, if I'm incoherent, I blame the Green Flash Grand Cru that I've been gobbling.
  36. russmann

    russmann Initiate (0) Oct 3, 2007 Idaho

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  37. chefkevlar

    chefkevlar Disciple (336) Apr 17, 2010 South Carolina
    Beer Trader

    Ho1KB is awesome but expensive. Still I go every time I visit my family in PGH.
  38. TheRealDBCooper

    TheRealDBCooper Aspirant (209) Mar 17, 2010 Svalbard & Jan Mayen Islands
    Beer Trader

    Actually quite a few breweries bypass distributors all the time and sell direct legally. There are states which allow this. As an example Pizza Port and Three Floyds apparently exchange kegs from time to time. Because both are self distributing, it isn't a problem.

    There is a lot of law variation from state to state as to what is and is not allowed primarily being driven by the United States' puritanical masses and rent seeking beer distributors protecting their position.
    russmann likes this.
  39. russmann

    russmann Initiate (0) Oct 3, 2007 Idaho

    Gotta like how the rules are different depending on where you are in America and what type of business you run. And by "like" I mean hate.
  40. SidSquid

    SidSquid Initiate (0) Nov 5, 2010 California

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