Retailers/Distributors/Breweries. Who Kills Fresh Beer?

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by DrLasers, Jan 4, 2017.

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  1. Tmwright7

    Tmwright7 Initiate (117) Feb 3, 2015 Pennsylvania

    That's likely how informed the average consumer is as well. The average beer drinker isn't checking the bottle for a best by date like they would a jug of milk. Why would they? They never had to before. And it's more difficult to pick up on off flavors in a beer compared to pointing out a clearly spoiled milk. Most people probably don't notice.
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  2. drtth

    drtth Initiate (0) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    Ok, thanks.

    Then I'd say your retailers share some blame as well since they made the choices that allow the distributor to take advantage of the retailers' customers.
    #82 drtth, Jan 5, 2017
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2017
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  3. DrLasers

    DrLasers Initiate (0) Apr 18, 2011 California

    I imagine this is probably the biggest factor. To add, once a brewery (or any business) gets involved with shareholders there is only one acceptable direction. Up. If BP were to scale back production in a longevity plan shareholders would jump ship on to the next emerging stock.

    Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against the corporate model in general. It will be interesting to see how BP navigates it's success.

    One thing they have done (imo) is over-diverify their product line to reel in the "new-or-nothing" consumers with infusion beers. Watermelon-this, ginger-that, pineapple-this......their tap room menu reads like a smoothie shop. I imagine that model will eventually loose steam and focus will be back to the core BP beers.
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  4. gibgink

    gibgink Champion (873) Oct 27, 2014 Missouri


    The brewery isn't the one suffering at the moment. The distributor bought the beer, didn't they?

    I do agree with you in the sense that a brewery should be more proactive and responsive with the demands of the consumer. But the old "national distribution" business model is outdated for craft brewing in my opinion. The same people(us) who bought all of the Ballast Point have moved on to other beers. The new model of craft brewing is a truly local one. One where a brewery doesn't need a distributor. They just open the doors and people come in and buy direct.
  5. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,877) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    But if the market is flooded with 'old' Ballast Point beers and this condition persists the brewery will be negatively impacted. In the not too distant future the distributors will stop ordering beer from Ballast Point since they already have many, many palates of Ballast Point beers in their warehouses. Ballast Point can indeed 'stick their heads in the sand' and pretend that this is just a distributor problem but that would be a very short sighted way for them to operate their business.
    Yes, the craft beer market dynamics have indeed changed over the recent past (and continues to do so) with more and more small local breweries selling their beers on premise. Breweries like Ballast Point need to fully recognize these changing dynamics and adapt accordingly. Maintaining the status quo where these is a shit load of 'old' product out there is not a path to success.

  6. BBThunderbolt

    BBThunderbolt Poo-Bah (8,015) Sep 24, 2007 Kiribati
    Society Trader

    To quote Don Vito Corleone: "competition is inefficient, a monopoly is very efficient". He didn't get all those folks to buy his olive oil because his olive oil was better, it through his "presence".
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  7. rgordon

    rgordon Meyvn (1,092) Apr 26, 2012 North Carolina

    Don Vito? Yeah, I voted for him!
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  8. mudbug

    mudbug Defender (606) Mar 27, 2009 Oregon

    They make choices according to corporate headquarters which are quite a long way away, plus there are very few options out here on the coast
  9. Ranbot

    Ranbot Defender (648) Nov 27, 2006 Pennsylvania

    Jack, Your experience might be at least partly due to Pennsylvania's "unique" beer laws. I assume @sierranevadabill's anecdote about floor sales was based on the typical US grocery store, outside of Pennsylvania. In most of the rest of the country grocers are permitted to display and sell beer [often wine and liquor too] throughout the store same as any other product they sell, unlike PA grocers who have to corral their beer into a cafe area in the corner of the store with separate registers. A busy Pennsylvanian quickly picking up a rotisserie chicken for the family might never see that enticing floor display of Sierra Nevada in the far corner of the store. :wink:

    FWIW, I suspect that PA has a bit of an over-supply problem, or at least it does with certain breweries. I was in VT over the holidays and stopped for some beer on my way home, and every beer I picked up had been bottled/canned within 1 month! Granted I was only checking dates of things I was interested in buying, they were all local breweries, and this was only one store, but I've never had that experience in PA, ever.
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  10. LeRose

    LeRose Poo-Bah (1,530) Nov 24, 2011 Massachusetts

    Which cliche should we apply here? We have met the enemy and he is us? The times they are a-changin'? Chicken or egg first?

    I'm no retail expert, but I think the consumer shoulders a portion of the issue. My opinion is that the vast majority of beer drinkers are clueless when it comes to the battle of beer versus age and just buy beers they have heard about. Not everybody is as discriminating or knowledgeable as the people who hang out here, and I think the "average or less" consumer is in the huge majority. They either don't know or don't care.

    Generally, I don't believe we are a particularly loyal crowd when it comes to our purchasing habits. With few exceptions, I don't repeatedly buy the same beer very often since there is so much available. (After drinking my way through most of the Sierra Nevada Snow Pack, the missus and I have been talking about what a great value Sierra represents - can get most of their beers anywhere I frequent, reasonably priced, and "old" or not they taste good). And as anal as I can get about things, there have been countless times when I have purchased beer, gotten it home, then had the "oh shit...shoulda checked the date" moment.

    And we all want what we can't have. Breweries start up and hopefully grow, then they expand production, then they expand distribution. Is that really the best thing that can happen? I know I go back and forth on this with the "hmmm...wish I could get XYZ" or "why doesn't Brewery Q distribute to my town". Then we get what we think we want, and sometimes the result is not what we expect. Never saw a Wicked Weed or Grimm beer around here until recently. I've bought a couple, tried them, and frankly don't understand all the fuss. Would I feel differently if I lived two miles from the brewery getting it at/near the source? Well, neither could have been that old having arrived at the store that week amidst lots of hoopla about said hype versus reality or is a couple weeks travel too long? What's going to happen to Treehouse assuming they plan to push distribution with their next expansion? Are they a brewery who would be better off maintaining the mystique they enjoy and limiting their footprint? Seems to work fine for others doing just that. Some breweries seem to be getting the knack for both - certain beers get sent out to retail, others are brewery only. Maybe that ends up being the most applicable model.

    So now things are shifting, favoring purchasing beer at the source. For the time being, making a frequent "beer-grimage" seems to be the "hip" thing to do and it should guarantee that beer is at its optimal freshness. (Whether that beer is at its peak of taste is a separate issue being discussed elsewhere). So the breweries with distribution beyond the parking lot will lose under this scenario - those mid-level national and regional types. For me, it isn't worth driving at least an hour and up to three hours every couple of weeks just to buy beer. Not everybody has a fabulous brewery in their immediate neighborhood so I hardly think I am alone in this situation. I'm going to do the best I can at the retail level 15 minutes from home. If I lived fifteen minutes from an Allagash or Jack's Abby I would be there with bells on, but I can't (and won't) justify making that pilgrimage every week or two. When I do make the trip, I am going to stock up and move the problem from retail to my personal inventory. At that point, I accept that as my problem and some beers won't be consumed at their absolute hypothetical best. I'm going to drink them anyway, but I'm probably more forgiving in this regard than most, I suppose. There's a value proposition with this buy at the source concept that just doesn't work for me...leave work, drive two hours in miserable traffic to pick up "freshies" in Framingham? Or waste half a Saturday? Doesn't even begin to make sense. "Hey, honey, let's waste a day and go to Chelsea (Mystic/Nightshift) and buy some beers" ain't gonna fly... Weekend in Maine and stock up on Allagash brews that I know will age gracefully - that isn't so tough a sell :wink:

    At least part of the point is there is absolutely no way in hell all of that beer volume from over 4000 breweries can sell via retail outlets with a customer base that goes "squirrel" every time a new shiny shows up. I do think the entire food chain holds some responsibility, including the consumers at the end of the line. Until everyone in the food chain gets religion about something that is at least somewhat arbitrary, things won't change. Another part of the point is the buy at the source approach isn't really viable for everyone, especially those in more rural areas. Sure - I have breweries closer to me, but not ones that make beers I want to drink. I'm not going to go rabid locavore and buy things I don't prefer just to be one of the cool kids. I will continue to support the Stones and Sierra Nevadas of the world and maybe be a bit more selective with buying the local stuff when it comes to age on some styles, but my six month old Kiwi Rising went down just fine...
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  11. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,877) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    Randy, I have purchased beer many times from supermarkets in other states. All of the beers I have purchased have been 6-packs off of shelves. Those supermarkets may have also had floor 'displays' but all of my purchases have been off the shelf.


    P.S. I am not a rotisserie chicken person (not that there is anything wrong with rotisserie chicken) so maybe I 'missed' a number of floor 'displays'?
  12. DrLasers

    DrLasers Initiate (0) Apr 18, 2011 California


    I picked up the new keg. It was dated 12/23 (15days old). Store manager was awesome about it and we talked a little about the process and beer dates. Hopefully, this will move things in a positive direction and other sailors and spouses can get some fresher beer too. From now forward my keg orders will have a time frame attached.
    Pretty excited about tapping this one buy have to wait a few hours. Will report back.

    Oh, and the BP rep is sending over a tap handle and some swag for the inconvenience.
  13. Troutbeerbum

    Troutbeerbum Initiate (0) Dec 5, 2016 Maine

    Nailed it.BUT..... Since we started getting Jack's Abby in Maine, the nearest place to get Hoponius Union was a half hour each way trip for me. Fresh or not, it's worth it.Its that good. You can imagine how excited I was to walk into the local gas station in my town last week and find Hoponius Union in the cooler.No more one hour round trips.
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  14. DrunkMcGruff

    DrunkMcGruff Initiate (0) Apr 21, 2013 Michigan

    Thanks, I try dillgently to make sure my product is as fresh as I can get it, but unfortunately not all breweries have BB dates on the cases, and in many instances the breweries themselves are sending out cases that they have been sitting on. In one particular case, I had a keg ordered for a customer of Knee Deep's Simtra Triple IPA. It was a month and a half old when it was delivered, but it was the freshest product my distributor had in their warehouse. Customer complained that it was not fresh enough, and threw a hissy fit that it was my fault that the beer was old. I tried explaining to said customer I have no control over what the distributor sends me, or what the warehouse loads into the truck for delivery to me. Having said that, I spoke to our distributor and that was literally shipped from California a week earlier, and it was the freshest 1/2 barrel they had of Simtra. In that instance it was the breweries fault. We had to wait another two months just to get a barrel that was only 3 weeks old. First in first out at distro level and most likely brewery.

    - 1. I usually do. It is few and far between that beer is sent to me not in it's original packaging, however I have gotten resealed cases with other stores' price stickers still on the 6 packs, which to me means that some other store had them picked up and the distributors, being money hungry, sent me the case instead of eating the cost. This happened a few times when ordering case stacks of certain products. I.E. I keep about 10 cases of Bell's Two Hearted Ale on hand at all times, on case at the bottom of the stack had been already priced by another store, sent back to distro, and then resent to me as if we wouldn't notice. I promptly called my sales rep's boss and tore them a new one for sending me that case. It never happened again. Occasionally the distributors will have to repackage certain cases due to damage of the oringinal case, and those I specifically check right then and there for any problems, but again, with only three people on staff, two running front end operations, and me checking in my orders (I get 4 deliveries all at the same time from 4 different companies who's drivers just want to get in, unload, get a check and get out) it gets difficult to check all of them.

    - 2. I can and I have, but staple items like Founders, Bell's, Stone, etc I can't run out of. I either have to take the cases or go a week without All Day IPA, or Two Hearted or Stone IPA and hope the next delivery is fresh. Customers don't like when you run out of their go to beer. I warn them however that the cases are older, but the blame again, lies solely with the distro. I can't physically go to the warehouses and pick out which cases I want sent to me. But would I rather keep the case of 2 month old Founder's Centenial IPA because my customers demand I carry it at all times, or lose sales because I have to wait two months to get a fresh shipment send to me? Now you see why retailers are forced into taking somewhat old product from the distributors. In the case of the bigger breweries like Founders, I am sure they are shipping out cases upon cases to the distro every day, which makes the distro have to send out the older product first in order to not have to eat the cost of having old stock, forcing retailers to take it instead because its a staple product they can't go without.

    - 3. I can, but see above. When you start running out of product, you lose revenue. The best I can do is have extensive and sometimes hostile arguments with those higher up on the food chain in the distribution companies. Sales rep's just do their orders, its the warehouse that loads trucks, and not a one of them can supply week old fresh product. Maybe it's just my territory, but in MI each distro has their territories and I cannot buy from anyone but them. If I do I risk losing my liquor license and/or a fine. The three tier system is super awesome :rolling_eyes:

    - 4. I could, but that case wont get resent to me after I refuse it, it will go to the first account who orders it on the truck's next delivery to said other account. They just move the cases from store to store until someone finally keeps it.

    In a perfect world yes, but distributors do it on purpose. They know what they have and they send out the old stuff first. It's my sales rep's getting approval from their bosses to have it picked up that is the difficult part. If I call the brewery rep, the product is pulled, paid for on the corporate card, and taken off of my shelves within days, not months. I don't know if they punish the distributors or not, but I've gotta think they have stern words with the sales team. Ballast Point actually came through my store the week before Christmas and pulled almost $800 worth of nearly outdated product off my shelves and had it credited and replaced in one week. The distributors would've taken a month because the sales rep's get punished by their bosses for having out of dates, thus they don't actively look for out dated product like I do, and they are the reason why I can't get it replaced or credited in a timely manner because of fear of reprisal from their bosses.

    Yes, occasionally I do, and I watch those like a hawk. Boxes get shredded all the time in the warehouse so they will repackage them and send out a case of 4-6pks/6-4pks/bombers/etc that are all from different cases. I've had to refuse those kinds of cases of multiple occasions.

    It depends on the distributor and your sales rep. I've had sales rep's who will have it picked up two days later (I get two deliveries a week from my 3 main distributors) and I've had product sit outdated in my back room for almost a year and a half before it was taken care of. Those are the instances in which I will literally call the president of the distribution company when all channels of communication have failed and then as if by magic, they are picked up on the next delivery. Success rate on pickups from actual brewery reps is 100% because they don't want themselves to look bad either, I've actually had a few brewery reps buy the product with their own money just to get it off the shelf. Success rate with the distributors varies, I'd say if I had to average it, it's about 50% within the first week, but each progressive week gets harder and harder to get it picked up. By law in Michigan you have one week to call in a product to get picked up and the distributor has to pick it up no questions asked. Having said that, if your sales rep conveniently forgets to write it up in that first week, they have zero obligation besides being a decent company to pick it up. I've literally had to destroy and throw cases of beer away in the trash because I would not sell it to customers and would rather take the loss than the backlash of selling shitty product to people. That's when the President's of the distro and/or brewery reps get a call and I usually receive some sort of replacement product or deduction from my bill, because I keep track of all of my out of code inventory. I have a room full of just returns; broken bottles that have come in full, unopened cases, low fill/no fill bottles, etc etc and a ledger of all of it.

    Maybe I'm a stickler for not wanting to sell shit, out of date beer, but I can guarantee I'll never discount or bargain bin or even sell at full price an out of date beer. Having said that, the game is changing and distributors are getting harder and harder to work with on returns. They will send you 40 cases of Stone Enjoy By and then blame you if you can't sell it all. My biggest problem in my business is that while I am the store manager, I am not the owner. I cannot override the bad decisions my owner makes after the fact, but he will usually run big buys by me to make sure he is making the right decision, but it is then on him to deal with the consequences of ordering too much perishable product after I've told him not to but he does it anyway. Ordering 40 cases of a cellar-able BBA stout is much different than getting tricked into buying 40 cases of IPA from the distro/sales rep trying to push it because they know it's about to go out of date. Distro's job is to get rid of as much beer as possible as quickly as possible no matter what the cost. The retailers job is to try and combat that by being proactive and pulling near or OOD product off their shelves and working against the grain to get it picked up, even if it means calling the brewery directly to accomplish that. I could drive a delivery truck to Founders myself and buy a day old pallet of All Day IPA and bring it back to my store and have uber fresh product, but by law, I am bootlegging it because the middle men aren't making their cut :rolling_eyes: It's a joke. For all of those reasons, this is why the three tier system is a fucking joke. They only care about profit, not the product. It needs to be abolished.
  15. drtth

    drtth Initiate (0) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    Thanks for taking the time to provide the additional information about the constraints and conditions you have to work under.
  16. CJNAPS

    CJNAPS Initiate (0) Nov 3, 2013 California

    Everyone has a hand in it, Hit up more local breweries for those fresh IPA's Cheers!
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  17. DrunkMcGruff

    DrunkMcGruff Initiate (0) Apr 21, 2013 Michigan

    No problem. There is a lot of misinformation and unfounded accusations floating around about retailers being the ones ultimately at fault and how the system works as a whole. After 10 years in this industry, OOD's are still my biggest pet peeve and the hardest thing to deal with, especially with a growing consumer base who are demanding fresh product. I can't believe my store is in the minority in having to deal with this stuff, and not just in Michigan. I'm sure stores across the country deal with this same problem week after week. All I have to say in closing is that if you are searching for the freshest product around, the only place you are going to find it is at the brewery itself, second only to a reputable store that keeps tabs on dates and pulls OOD's off the wall regularly and rotates stock the right way. If your go-to store has dusty out of date beer, they as well as the distributors and brewery reps, are not doing their jobs right.
  18. drtth

    drtth Initiate (0) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    I'd say there are some differences from state to state in how things shake out for retailers. For example I've never heard any of the retailers where I shop having to deal with resealed cases. In PA the state law is that a case can only be sold to me by the retailer if it is in the original brewery sealed packaging. So cases must be delivered and sold exactly as they were shipped from the brewery.

    As for fresh beer, I regularly buy cases of a local beer that is within days of being bottled. For example, cases I buy of in-state seasonals are regularly in my hands within two weeks or less of bottling. Also, while it doesn't happen as often with out of state breweries not too many years back I ordered a case of Dogfish Head 90 min. that was 5 days old when I drank my first bottle from the case.
  19. bbtkd

    bbtkd Poo-Bah (13,047) Sep 20, 2015 South Dakota
    Society Trader

    While the brewer, distributor, and retailer all contribute to the problem, the final person that has a chance to stop the madness is the consumer. If every buyer remembered to check dates and knew how to assess it based on style, then the bottles would sit on the shelf long enough that they'd have to be pulled and this would send a message back up through the supply chain. Of course, you'd never get more than a few consumers to check unless each beer was marked in huge font with an expiration date.
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  20. DrunkMcGruff

    DrunkMcGruff Initiate (0) Apr 21, 2013 Michigan

    It sucks that you have to buy a whole case of something, but I think the main difference is in efficiency and turn over. If you have to buy it by the case there, that means you don't have stacks of beer like a bottle shop that just sit around when there's 100's of beers to choose from as singles. Things keep fresh and sell out. In Michigan you can literally walk around a few grocery stores that have growler fill licensing while you drink a pint as if you were at a bar. It's really weird.
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  21. KOP_Beer_OUtlet

    KOP_Beer_OUtlet Initiate (0) Jul 13, 2013 Pennsylvania

    A likely culprit is FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out)....

    Retailers (includes distributors in PA) fear missing a sale to a customer, wholesalers fear missing a placement on retailers shelves, breweries fear missing out on customer demand....consumers fear missing out on the latest and greatest beers..

    Potential solutions:

    Established breweries should just make less beer...and wholesalers should not worry about running out...
    For example...Jai Alai disappears for months on end and then reappears unpredictably here in the Philly area....when it returns people go crazy for it then it disappears right when the novelty begins to wane...old Jai Alai is rarely an issue...

    In turn...wholesalers should cut their orders...why cram the shelves with a trending beer that will fall out of favor next week...

    New breweries should not try to distribute beyond your local area if at all for the next few years...
    Our shelves are on earth is your beer going to stand out even if it's phenomenal...if it's readily available craft beer consumers will get tired of it...stay small build a following and reputation...the majority of businesses start this way why should craft beer be any different...After several years then MAYBE start to self distribute locally and build from there...

    Tired Hands is a perfect example...fantastic want their beer you go to them...and trust me they sell at retail price with the two layers of middlemen in between other words they profit substantially more with substantially fewer head aches and they never have to deal with out of code beer...

    For right now you can not be the next Sierra Nevada, Lagunitas, or Oskar Blues...the opportunity might be there in the future...for right now learn your craft and hone your business skills

    Retailers like my self:
    Ultimately we are responsible when old beer gets into the hands of the consumer...manage your older beer...offer whatever it takes to prevent a single out of code beer from leaving your you fix the cost administratively doesn't matter...

    Also don't be an order takers be salesmen...don't be afraid to tell a customer you are out of something and don't be afraid to tell them why...then find out what they liked about that beer and show them your knowledge by offering other works more often than not and then you become a resource not just an order taker...of course you have to hire the right people, pay them well, buy beer for them to taste, train them etc

    For example...The Avery Maharajah was mentioned earlier in this thread by a BA'er from this area in Pennsylvania...I deal with the wholesale distributor he was talking about...all shipments from that distributor are checked at the loading dock for date codes(again well trained employees) old or older beer goes back...for several months that beer has been coming in old and for several months now we have turned down every single request for that beer made by a customer...we simply explain the situation and look for an opportunity to sell them something else they might like based on why they liked that particular beer...if they insisted on that beer, we would call a competitor to see if they have it (which we always do when we have don't have a beer someone is looking for and the customer can't wait for it to come in)...then we show them how to check the dates on the beers...sometimes we win sometimes we lose...but our goal is to be valuable to our customers because we know eventually that sells product (plus we're truly nice guys)

    Finally for the consumers we need to actually "go to" some of our "go to" beers and learn to expand our horizons...
    I have customers who need to buy something new every week...easy right? Not if you are looking for a hoppy, citrusy IPA between 6.5% and 7.2% ABV...Oh yeah and they have to be Pliny or Heady good...when that beer comes in I'll walk you straight to it in the meantime you raved about this beer three weeks ago why not take it home again? And you know's ok if you miss out on the latest phenom in craft beer...lately they are like buses...another one is bound to come by in the next hour

    How about embracing another style...there are so many exciting and new styles...skip the IPA or Belgian tripel this week

    Apologies if this sounded preachy...
  22. KOP_Beer_OUtlet

    KOP_Beer_OUtlet Initiate (0) Jul 13, 2013 Pennsylvania

    Your hard work shows that ultimately the responsiblilty is ours. Many retailers around here won't put in the same effort you have put in which I praise...we do the same here because we the retailer in this case is the last line of defense between the glitches in the system and the consumers...we are not perfect at and some old beer gets out the door but very little
  23. Jaycase

    Jaycase Meyvn (1,393) Jan 13, 2007 Illinois

    My early contender for post of the year. Great advice for all to follow. Well done, sir!

    Reading through some of the posts I was thinking to myself how difficult it must be for breweries to introduce new year round beers these days. I mean something which can sustain sales over the course of the year, year over year. There are the established ones like SNPA, Two Hearted, etc but for a new one? No way, not likely with how increasingly fickle craft beer consumers seem to have become & for the very reasons you mention. Not all consumers certainly, but it would seem to me a large enough segment to have an impact on what a brewery decides to produce. Which is certainly why there are so many seasonals and one-offs being brewed. Look! Shiny, new beer! :wink:
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  24. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,877) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    Maybe @sierranevadabill can share some insight here since Sierra Nevada just recently introduced two new hoppy beers as part of their year round portfolio of beers?

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  25. KOP_Beer_OUtlet

    KOP_Beer_OUtlet Initiate (0) Jul 13, 2013 Pennsylvania

    A business as big as Sierra with their rep can pump a new year round beer into the market and be successful for few years before needing to change things up again (assuming the market stays the same)...Sierra does an excellent job staying relevant and responding to is also a small enough business to quickly respond to consumer demand but big and smart enough not to do it too quickly...Track the timeline between the success of Anderson Valley's Gose series and the release of El Gose as an indicator.
    JackHorzempa likes this.
  26. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,877) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    Joe, did you mean to state Otra Vez here?

    How well is Otra Vez selling for you now that we are in the midst of winter (I just got done shoveling my driveway)?

  27. FatBoyGotSwagger

    FatBoyGotSwagger Poo-Bah (1,791) Apr 4, 2009 Pennsylvania


    "...and wholesalers should not worry about running out..."

    This is really the issue right here. Wholesalers when they sell all of a certain product look at that like a failure because they ran out. It happened with DFH in the mid 2000s and its happening today with brands like Firestone Walker. It is better to over order and sit on old product then to sell out and keep it moving.

    Oh well it is what it is.
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  28. FonyBones

    FonyBones Initiate (29) Dec 19, 2015 New York

    Thanks for the insights. Much respect for your diligence.
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  29. KOP_Beer_OUtlet

    KOP_Beer_OUtlet Initiate (0) Jul 13, 2013 Pennsylvania

    Yup...sorry for the mistake :flushed::flushed::flushed:
  30. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,877) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    So Joe, how well is Otra Vez selling for you right now (winter time)?


  31. OneBeertoRTA

    OneBeertoRTA Initiate (0) Jan 2, 2010 California

    I'm at the point where I simply get my IPAs either directly from the source: Noble, BW, El Segundo, Smog City, etc... I frequent Lazy Acres which has locals with bottle dates and the beer manager tells me when stuff is scheduled to come in.

    To answer your question... it's many things.

    The reason Ballast Point is becoming such a dominant player is because Constellation uses their scale and muscle to force distribution done right. Even the other "bigger" craft companies like Stone have expanded too fast and haven't done as good a job ensuring timely and fresh distribution. This could be tied to insufficient buyback agreements and poor spoilage clauses with the distributor. Lagunitas, like BP seems to be the only other consistent craft company these days. Again, most likely due to the Heineken muscle.

    Over-saturation in a still relatively new category is the main culprit. For years BMC has cleaned out old beer without issue (yes-BMC does have a relatively short life). They are a fine tuned machine at ensuring "quality." The grocery, drug and liquor channels quite frankly aren't educated on shelf life. Liquor channel specifically, has seen the biggest changes in shelf/sku mix.

    7 Eleven used to only carry one craft like Sierra Nevada or blue moon (craft meh), today they have two cold boxes floor to ceiling of bombers and six packs. Independent liquor is buying all sorts of craft and they are the worst at managing inventory. They typically buy on deal and those deals could be related to getting-past prime hoppy offers the distributers are throwing at them.

    Additionally, most suppliers measure their distributor success on KPIs, specifically PODs (new points of distribution) rather than velocity. The basic idea that more PODs is the key to building a brand is fundamentally short sided. Without velocity in the current distribution universe, what you end up getting is product everywhere, but more slowly, typically past prime and in the hands of retailers that aren't yet educated on the importance of turn and freshness.

    All in all, the problem is with supplier, distributors and retailers. The focus must first be on gaining distribution in the right (educated) accounts and ensure velocity and turn. Tasking distributors to throw product in channels and accounts that shouldn't really carry the brand will eventually turn off consumers who try it for the first time when it is a malt bomb.
    DrLasers and rgordon like this.
  32. OneBeertoRTA

    OneBeertoRTA Initiate (0) Jan 2, 2010 California

    It's interesting because BP is the example I use of distribution done right. There has never been more cases on the floor then there is today after the STZ acquisition. I have yet to have a Sculpin or Grunion or Dorado that was significantly past prime.

    Sure their points of distribution increased 100x but I would bet that in most small liquor stores that if you bought one of each IPAs on the shelf, 50-70% would be past prime and the BP offerings would not.
    DrLasers likes this.
  33. KOP_Beer_OUtlet

    KOP_Beer_OUtlet Initiate (0) Jul 13, 2013 Pennsylvania

    Otra Vez like all Gose have slowed down...but I give the beer legs
    JackHorzempa likes this.
  34. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,877) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    That would have been my guess. Thanks for that input.

    Hopefully Sierra Nevada (and other breweries) tailor their year round production schedules for beers like Otra Vez to account for seasonal preferences for these sorts of beers.

  35. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (2,146) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
    Society Trader

    Not really OT, but I thought this was amusing, given the geekery's emphasis on the Constellation purchase of Ballast Point in this thread:
    ---Brewbound - Constellation's Third Quarter

    Of course, that really says more about Corona and the other Modelo brands in the US, which make Constellation the #3 "brewer" based in the US (even though their breweries are in Mexico) with close to 8% of the market.
    JackHorzempa and OneBeertoRTA like this.
  36. OneBeertoRTA

    OneBeertoRTA Initiate (0) Jan 2, 2010 California

    I am mostly speaking for CA in regards to BP distribution. I will say the cases they have on the floor in the state is something I've never seen before in craft. They are up triple digits in depletions in CA in 2016.
  37. bubseymour

    bubseymour Poo-Bah (3,169) Oct 30, 2010 Maryland
    Society Trader

    It's the Trump era and time to do some de-regulation. The 3-tier law should be moved to the top of the Presidential priority list (ahead of Obamacare). Make hiring of a distributor an optional decision at the discretion of the breweries management. Anyone know a good lobbyist to send to Congress to help fight the machine?
  38. gopens44

    gopens44 Poo-Bah (2,350) Aug 9, 2010 Virginia
    Society Trader

    There has been a lot of input, on this, so my apologies if it's been covered - my answer is this; retailers - yes. Distros - to a lesser degree but still guilty. Brewers - maybe a bit but not anywhere near the same reasons as the two former.

    Retailers are sometimes either bullied or swooned by distros to buy that which they may not want or need. Want KBS? You're gonna have to double down on All Day.... Or "Hey, how about a pallet of Dale's at a REALLY low price? You can have a big happy sale!". Either way, even thought the distro was the one pushing, retailer still pulled the trigger. I'd feel a little less incline to be critical over a retailer trying to make sure they get a limited beer by purchasing gobs of slow movers (bottle shop with no releases? Not gonna survive...), but at some point they have to cut their losses (or margins) and try to move the stuff before it gets too outdated. And this goes for all the dusty beers. In the past year, TW has begun placing discounted beer on a little island near the checkout. The dates aren't as bad as what you'd find on a shelf even two years ago, and honestly, there's been some decent buys. Usually seasonal stuff right at the end of the season, but still not bad - up to $1 off per bottle for a lot of it. So retailers should take it upon themselves to get ahead of the curve instead of going full ostrich when beers start to get dusty.

    Distros know what they are doing. It's all about volume, all the time. Honestly, the sales model for distros (large houses, either ABInBev or MillerCoors) hasn't changed much since craft has become a driver. They still look at floor space, cooler space, shelf space and graphic items as something to "win" at every location. Pump in as much as possible at all times. For this reason you'll see end cap displays of like, 420 or something knowing right well that this particular Kroger will NOT blow through 10 cases of 420 within a reasonable amount of time. If craft drove distros, their would be an approach closer to wine, where instead of sticking places with a minimum of a case, they'd sell items in by the six pack (or bottle with 22's). Think how fresh beer would be at the local mom and pop if instead of a case of 420 (which I'm picking on for no good reason) they instead were able to get four different six packs. Of course, I can say that because I no longer work at a distro and would not have to endure the nightmare of picking an order in sixes instead of cases!

    I tend to blame brewers very little. Maybe the industry in general can throttle back the IPAs a little, but right now that's what's moving. Forget the fact that it's a super crowded market, it only takes one bottle / can to create a believer, right? Actually, I think one positive thing to come about has only hurt stores more, and that's brewery only releases. Keeps me from hitting bottle shops with any regularity, and I cant' be alone in that.
  39. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,877) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    I appreciate your 'philosophy' here but for breweries that have extensive distribution (e.g., several states) it really would not make economic sense for them to operate as a distributing company. For example, Ballast Point really would not want to take on the responsibilities of distributing beer throughout the state of Maryland.

    If an improvement is desired here, realistically the existing system of three parties (brewery -> distributor -> retailers) needs to be improved. Considering that there are thousands of breweries and lots (thousands?) of distributors and tens of thousands of retailers I am uncertain if this can be done systemically. Perhaps the Brewers Association could be an 'expediter' here but I would guess that the scope of this problem would scare them away on this matter.

  40. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,877) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    Yup, the buy local/fresh movement has sure changed the craft beer market dynamics.

    You would think that the distributing parties (distributing craft breweries, their partner distributors, and the retail stores) would see this and use this as incentive to change their present business operations. I have personally not seen any evidence that they have adopted changes but perhaps we will see some changes over the next year or two?

    gopens44 likes this.
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