Total Wine doesn't get it (yet another freshness rant)

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by tzieser, May 6, 2019.

  1. Harrison8

    Harrison8 Poo-Bah (3,357) Dec 6, 2015 Missouri
    Society Trader

    Closest Total Wine to me is about 250 miles away, but there is still plenty of old beer.

    This photo was taken a few months ago:


    Full shame on this one goes to Hy-Vee.
  2. bubseymour

    bubseymour Poo-Bah (2,415) Oct 30, 2010 Maryland

    This is the true way for it to be fixed.

    I also had a talk with an employee at the top craft beer store in my town. We discussed all of the flood of state and other small breweries of various 4 packs/6packs taking over the store shelves. He said that hardly anyone is buying them...very expensive and very few people know the product at all, so they sit.

    He did say they are doing 32 things which I think are both great ideas from a consumer standpoint to get fresher beers:
    1) retailer is going to buying less variety and less quantity from these local brewers on beer styles preferred fresh (hoppy stuff)
    2) what they do buy, will always be put in single can section, to improve freshness of the singles and also more craft beer people seem more willing to buy 1 can/bottle as a "lets try this one" for
    $4 vs. a 4 pack for $15. Faster turnover
    3) try to appease the distributors by buying larger quantities of the barleywines/stouts/sours etc "cellar beers". They can stick around for 6/12/24 mo. on the shelves and doesn't hurt much. Could even create a "vintage" section for 12+mo. old BA stouts and such.
    officerbill and Harrison8 like this.
  3. JBogan

    JBogan Champion (817) Jul 15, 2007 California

    I've contacted Firestone more than once about old beer and never got a reply back from them, nor did I expect them to reply directly back to me. I simply was just hoping to see the old beer removed from the locations that I reported, and it did get removed.

    Over the years I've reported old beer to a couple of other breweries and didn't hear back from them either, nor did I expect to.
    DonicBoom likes this.
  4. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (1,767) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey

    The "Sell by" or "Use by" dates on those products (which, like all such date coding, is voluntary - save for baby formula) have nothing to do with the length of time it would take for them to spoil to the point of causing illness, though.

    I always figured that part of the high retail price of "craft" beer is in the maximum mark-up the wholesaler and retailer tack on because of the likelihood of some beer going stale before it sells. (Which, of course, is SOP for lots of consumer goods).

    Well, lots of 13 month old imports sitting on US shelves (a few, like Jever, still "in code") so I suppose FW didn't feel the need to reply - yet? :wink:

    Hey, I'm not saying FW or any other brewer WILL do something about it - as other note, their emails also went unreplied - only that it should be done along with starting a(nother) thread about it. (Which, to his credit, @tzierser did do.)

    At this point, considering the complaints from all over including in the home market of California, you'd think Firestone-Walker would have an easier time of it if they simply had a REPORT YOU FOUND FRESH BEER webpage...:grin:

    I've had a few experiences with telling brewers and distributors about old beer and finding it gone on my next visit. (I once even joked to a distributor about - finally - seeing a newly arrived beer in the state and finding the "Best by" date only a few weeks away and they actually replaced that one before the beer went out of code).

    I also once had an email back 'n' forth with a small out-of-state brewer who used a large AB or MC house about a case of his old beer I bought (it had been stacked UNDER a fresh case my buddy bought at the same time - so check ALL the beers' dates :astonished:). Anyway, he wanted the distributor to replace my case and he could not even get the distributor to return his phone calls...:grimacing:
  5. Snowcrash000

    Snowcrash000 Meyvn (1,485) Oct 4, 2017 Germany

    Must be an American thing. Almost all of the German and UK breweries I contacted did get back to me. Stone Berlin even sent me some thank you and replacement beers on two separate occasions.
    JBogan likes this.
  6. MostlyNorwegian

    MostlyNorwegian Zealot (526) Feb 5, 2013 Illinois

    Ah, the I saw and then bought old beer and I have no idea who to yell at problem. Truth be told. You have provided three paragraphs of essentially just yelling at a cloud.
    Total wine doesn't have much control over what they can do to it other than LiFO. But, they could hire a beer buyer who isn't going to accept a distributors lazy presumption that a pallet dump from a successful brewery from the other side of the country will be good for business when there are a bunch of local and regional ones with an active sales force who can be just slightly more pro-active about knowing what each account has. I will presume here that FW's field sales person, if there actually is one in your area merely got a single ride along to the account and the distributor is the one actively making the decision as to what to actually drop off at it. Hence the two rows of a pallet of year old beer turding it up at your big name packy.
    Another truth here is that breweries more often than not have no actual say about what happens to their product once it is out of their hands. They can be grossly offended by it, but they don't have much say about what can happen to it other than to find another distributor who is more proactive about generating actual sales and actual turnover of product for the accounts they handle with breweries such as FW.
    dcotom and rgordon like this.
  7. drtth

    drtth Poo-Bah (3,851) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    At the federal level all date coding on, say, milk is voluntary but there are 20-25 states that do have coding standards in place.

    Those on milk actually are related to the length of time it would take to spoil in that they are typically set about a a week in advance of when the industry thinks the contents would start to become unsafe.
    DonicBoom likes this.
  8. bubseymour

    bubseymour Poo-Bah (2,415) Oct 30, 2010 Maryland

    Sorry should be 3 things...not 32...forgot to edit check.
    GuyFawkes likes this.
  9. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (1,767) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey

    But that's not what your link says:
    Milk that is no longer "fine" is not necessarily "unsafe".

    NJ residents used to come across milk that was packaged for sale both in state and in New York, and the "Sell By" dates for NY and NJ were different :astonished:. (The joke used to be that at midnight do the dairies pick up the "old" milk in NY and rush it across the Hudson for a couple more days of possible sale.)

    I was wondering what the other 29 things were that they were going to do... "Geez, and here I thought I was one of them "freshness freaks"...."
  10. drtth

    drtth Poo-Bah (3,851) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    True. But milk that is no longer "fine" is not necessarily "safe" either.

    The real point is that there is a relationship between those sell by dates and when the milk is likely to spoil. There is no switch to be flipped here but the dates are still set to protect the customer and indirectly to protect the producer from legal action.
  11. JayWhitson

    JayWhitson Champion (811) Feb 25, 2015 Montana
    Society Trader

    That’s an American Barleywine now. Stash it for 5-10 more years.
    Tdizzle, rightcoast7, ESHBG and 5 others like this.
  12. AZBeerDude72

    AZBeerDude72 Poo-Bah (1,636) Jun 10, 2016 Arizona
    Society Trader

    That should have been sold out of the Vintage section at a 20% premium.
  13. rgordon

    rgordon Savant (931) Apr 26, 2012 North Carolina

    As a wholesaler I often advised accounts to buy conservatively and not with big eyes. Having a good 10 cases move through is way better than having a few cases straggling behind when the consumers move on to the next "jewel". Many times I was glad to be out of stock, knowing full well the fickleness of the beer market.
    bmugan, GuyFawkes, KarlHungus and 5 others like this.
  14. tzieser

    tzieser Meyvn (1,034) Nov 21, 2006 New Jersey

    Exactly. Funny how yelling at clouds nets 2 pages of replies these days:laughing:
    Dragginballs76 and surfcaster like this.
  15. BeardedWalrus

    BeardedWalrus Aspirant (240) Jun 5, 2018 North Carolina

    This is partly why I prefer imperial stouts, barleywines, and other strong, non hop focused beers. Freshness isn't a huge concern, in fact I'm pleasantly surprised to find them with a little age on them.
    GuyFawkes and ESHBG like this.
  16. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (1,767) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey

    Challenge accepted :grin:. What do I win?
  17. BayAreaJoe

    BayAreaJoe Champion (867) Nov 23, 2017 California
    Society Trader

    And that's just all the beer on the floor and shelves. I don't know how your TW is setup, but the one I go to has an unbelievable amount of beer stacked all the way up on top of the shelves everywhere, seems like far more than they have actually available below. So you can rest assured that they keep a continuous stock of old beers. They do have a refrigerated room where they keep kegs and a small section of rotating beers, but you always have to diligently find date codes on all beers there, so time-consuming.
    MistaRyte and tzieser like this.
  18. AZBeerDude72

    AZBeerDude72 Poo-Bah (1,636) Jun 10, 2016 Arizona
    Society Trader

    This is exactly why I go to 1-2 of my local small shops for most of my items. I know the owners, I know what is new, and most of their stock turns over very fast so few items sit for long. Between these local guys and brewery direct old beer is rare. TW serves a function for a lot of folks who want the one stop for all shop but they are never going to be fresh beer sellers, won't happen. You can catch the new drops and get those fresh at TW but you will also see them moved to rear and sitting for year once hype dies.
    arizcards and Milktoast75 like this.
  19. nc41

    nc41 Poo-Bah (1,810) Sep 25, 2008 North Carolina

    Let me qualify that; the Piedmont Triad area. But that’s s great source for NJ :slight_smile:
    Dragginballs76 likes this.
  20. joerooster

    joerooster Initiate (31) May 15, 2018 Virginia

    Total Wine would be better off if they purchased about 50% of what they are currently buying (at least the TWs in my area). They just have too much inventory to turnover in a reasonable amount of time.

    Another suggestion for TW, get more coolers to keep the beer cold. Seems like 95% of the beer is sitting on warm shelves.
  21. MistaRyte

    MistaRyte Devotee (478) Jan 14, 2008 Virginia

    This... Norfolk TW is set up this way. Look at all the old beer at eye level... and then look up.
  22. Bitterbill

    Bitterbill Poo-Bah (6,568) Sep 14, 2002 Wyoming
    Society Trader

    I contacted Deschutes once aboot old beers of theirs on the shelf. They got back to me quick smart, had the beer removed, and offered to send me some free gear.
  23. MNAle

    MNAle Meyvn (1,445) Sep 6, 2011 Minnesota

    Sure there is... drink it last after 4 or 5 other beers! You'll (or, at least, I'll) never notice the difference! :grin:
    GuyFawkes, meefmoff, cavedave and 2 others like this.
  24. MNAle

    MNAle Meyvn (1,445) Sep 6, 2011 Minnesota

    I will only shop at TW as an absolute last resort for a beer I must have (IOW, very rarely), in part due to their track record of predatory marketing practices. Many members here disparage AB-InBev for similar practices, but happily shop at TW to save a few bucks on their "independent" craft.

    Another reason to not shop there. The percentage is completely reversed at my local family-owned shop, and most of that is big beers in bombers.
  25. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,012) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    Do you have some references (e.g., links) so I can read more here?

    In this thread is the first time I have read/heard that TW utilized predatory marketing practices.


    SMH_NWI, nc41, drtth and 2 others like this.
  26. AZBeerDude72

    AZBeerDude72 Poo-Bah (1,636) Jun 10, 2016 Arizona
    Society Trader

    LOL I was not sure how to read that also. I never saw them do anything like this or what would even dictate that term? I am curious to see. If the poster meant being a large business and their ability to dominate mom and pop stores that is sort of a cheap shot at TW.
  27. Ranbot

    Ranbot Champion (858) Nov 27, 2006 Pennsylvania

    Customers are part of it, for sure, but don't let retailers off the hook. I was forming an argument in my head, until I saw @rgordon made a real world example...
    Why do beer retailers want to be in the warehousing business? Because if the beer is sitting on shelves not getting sold, that's just a fancy warehouse.
    1. Retail floor space has a cost (i.e. lease, taxes, utilities, maintenance, etc.)
    2. Removing and disposing unsold beer has a cost.
    3. Losing reputation with customers has a cost.
    These costs are avoided or reduced when the retailer buys the correct amount of product at the start and sells it all through the register, as advised by @rgordon. The economic incentives for a retailer to avoid incurring the costs above should be huge, in theory. Where did those incentives go astray? We are stressing about a problem (over-supply) that theoretically should never reach down the chain to the customers, or at least not be as apparent as it is. I keep hearing things about how there is a lot of pressure and incentives in the distribution chain for retailers to buy [and warehouse] more beer. I have to wonder if customers buy beer "like they should" what's stopping the retailers and wholesalers in the current system continuing to increase stock to a point that it once again hurts freshness and in turn consumers? Something in the system is broken. The economic incentives for businesses to be lean and efficient seem weak, to put it lightly. @beertunes I don't think that equation will be fixed when consumers "buy correctly" or whatever is inferred by pointing the finger at customers.
    #67 Ranbot, May 7, 2019
    Last edited: May 7, 2019
  28. MNAle

    MNAle Meyvn (1,445) Sep 6, 2011 Minnesota

  29. jbertsch

    jbertsch Meyvn (1,139) Dec 14, 2008 Massachusetts

    Some folks started to mention it but what I think TW doesn't get is that the vast majority of beer should be kept cold. When they have a ton of square footage and only a tiny minuscule fraction of it for refrigerated's infuriating.

    I get it, refrigeration costs $$ but there are way smaller shops with more refrigerators.
  30. ypsifly

    ypsifly Meyvn (1,043) Sep 22, 2004 Michigan

    As a retailer I probably shouldn't say this but....the average person who shops at a beer store is ignorant of a lot of aspects of beer, freshness being one of them. Until the overwhelming majority of beer consumers understand the importance of freshness, this will continue. Sure the brewers and distributors need to cut back on what is produced and ordered for distribution, and retailers need to step up and watch those date codes....but the overwhelming majority customers need to be aware of and demand fresh product and vote with their $$$ accordingly. Until then the three tiers will not have much motivation to fix the problem.
    DonicBoom, JMN44, rightcoast7 and 9 others like this.
  31. Milktoast75

    Milktoast75 Devotee (449) Oct 27, 2012 Wisconsin

    Costs a lot money to purchase and run those coolers. You get a huge selection but it’s warm.
    For every purchase I’ve made at TW, I’ve made 4-5 at my local Mom and Pop store. They obviously don’t have the selection but somehow I never walk out empty handed and always with a smile.:grin:
    thesherrybomber and AZBeerDude72 like this.
  32. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,012) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania


    And hopefully all of the parties in the supply chain will open their collective eyes and take substantive measures to fix this problem. Otherwise the ever expanding number of small, local breweries will be 'eating their lunch'.

  33. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,012) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    Keep your eyes open in 2019 (and beyond). My guess is that more and more beer consumers will be purchasing fresh locally brewed beers from the ever expanding number of small, local breweries. By then it may be too late for the distributing breweries and their partner Wholesale Distributors?:thinking_face:

    GuyFawkes and AZBeerDude72 like this.
  34. Beer_Stan

    Beer_Stan Initiate (99) Mar 15, 2014 California

    Popping in to mention, again, the "allocation games" played by some breweries and wholesalers that emerges as a "if you aren't an ardent supporter of [insert brewery here], you cant get the Barrel-aged/specialty/rare release/hard to find/limited stuff that everyone will want." Unfortunately due to these "games" stores tend to over-purchase on regular perishable stock so that they can be in the running for whatever hype beer is coming down the pipes. For example, in my store I don't order any Goose Island at all because of very low consumer interest, which means that when the Bourbon County is released I wont be able to order any of it, all of which is fine. I just have to explain it to the customers that ask why i don't have it. This presents a problem because these companies are actively incentivizing over-buying of product which translates to old shelf turds that will sit for eons just so you can get your bottle of Prabajava, FO, etc. Irresponsibility all around.
  35. AZBeerDude72

    AZBeerDude72 Poo-Bah (1,636) Jun 10, 2016 Arizona
    Society Trader

    Thank for for saying this, because I totally agree. Until people are educated enough not to get screwed people will continue to screw them, lol. Why would anyone change their behavior if they don't need to. If suckers want to be suckers then sell to them.
  36. Sinzanasti

    Sinzanasti Devotee (420) Apr 3, 2014 Ohio
    Society Trader

    This....I mean even when I ask people to purchase beer for me (ex: family buying me a 6 pack for when I'm visiting them), I need to explicitly explain that they need to look at the date on the bottom of the can or side of a bottle before purchasing. They wouldn't even consider for a second if I hadn't told them to do it. They also think I'm crazy for making sure they do that!
    GuyFawkes likes this.
  37. AZBeerDude72

    AZBeerDude72 Poo-Bah (1,636) Jun 10, 2016 Arizona
    Society Trader

    Why big beer sucks. They play games and force folks to buy their swill in mass in order to get the prize product. I hate that practice and companies who pull it on others. My local guy who has been around for about 40 years is done with Goose and their BS. This last year they played games with him and he said no more, they can pound sand and go elsewhere. I told him cheers for that and I would always support his family business. Nice to see the little guy say screw you to the big boys when they try and strong arm.
    GuyFawkes, spersichilli and Beer_Stan like this.
  38. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,012) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    The specific link you provided requires a subscription.

    I was able to find a different link that I could read (see link below) and in that article:

    “However last week a judge in the Suffolk Superior Court in Boston ruled in favour of Total Wine & More, The Boston Globe reported, allowing alcohol retailers to discount booze that they buy in bulk, effectively passing on the savings to their consumers.”

    You must have a very different definition of “predatory practices” than I do? Nothing in the above are “predatory practices” IMO.

    Roguer, DonicBoom and drtth like this.
  39. Milktoast75

    Milktoast75 Devotee (449) Oct 27, 2012 Wisconsin

    In regards to TW Madison, WI. Article points out lobbying money spent. Just another liquor store? Cites Boston Globe article, also. Predatory? They sure will do whatever it takes to get it their way.
  40. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,012) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    Do you consider "lobbying" to be a "predatory practice"?

    drtth likes this.