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

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

  1. oldbean

    oldbean Disciple (323) Jun 30, 2005 Massachusetts

    Umm... yes?
    MostlyNorwegian likes this.
  2. TrojanRB

    TrojanRB Meyvn (1,331) Jul 27, 2013 California
    Society Trader

    I buy a ton of beer from Total Wine. My nearest location has a great cold section.....plenty of fresh Firestone Walker too!

    It is good to be in California I suppose....seems like most people complaining are in other states.
    nc41 likes this.
  3. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,005) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    Ah, OK?
  4. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,005) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    Woo-Hoo! We are in agreement.

    Hot damn!!:slight_smile:
  5. GetMeAnIPA

    GetMeAnIPA Zealot (577) Mar 28, 2009 California

    I didn’t see your post before I made my post. But this is my biggest gripe. One the amount of beers that get cold stored and the particular beers that are cold stored is mind blogging. Personally I think TW makes their money on wine and sprits and beer is an afterthought.
  6. nc41

    nc41 Poo-Bah (1,807) Sep 25, 2008 North Carolina

    I’d vote they just don’t know. I’m friendly with the TW store manager and I’ve turned cans over to show him the dates. I truly think he’s just caught up in corporate sales numbers etc. With these bigger chains your only as good as your stat sheets, and I’d guess that pegging old beers isn’t a stat.
  7. nc41

    nc41 Poo-Bah (1,807) Sep 25, 2008 North Carolina

    Not the case here in NC, FW isn’t within 100 ft of the cold case. The cold case is mostly crap beers, but I’m guessing they’re high rotation beers based on a computer model. Just a guess.
  8. MostlyNorwegian

    MostlyNorwegian Zealot (526) Feb 5, 2013 Illinois

    I'd be willing to bet that more than a few breweries have a host of less than savory words about lobbyists and the impact their efforts have had on their ability to control their own product as it stands in relation to this particular conversation about the availability of fresh product for their consumers.
  9. Ronmarley1

    Ronmarley1 Disciple (361) Jan 20, 2014 Ohio

    We don’t have Total Wine in Ohio. I’ve only been in one, near Fort Myers, FL. At first I was overwhelmed with the selection. Then I realized that most of the IPAs were months old. I saw Pseudo Sue and got excited (I’ve never had it), then I saw that it was something like six months old. I also wanted to try Jai Alai, and it was two months old. I was surprised it was not fresher, considering the source. I did end up buying that, knowing that some folks feel that it has fallen off a bit by then. In a side note, we now get Jai Alai in Ohio, and it pretty much sits now after the initial drop.
    In general, I was kinda let down with the store. Kinda seems like the Sam’s Club of alcohol.
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  10. bbtkd

    bbtkd Poo-Bah (2,428) Sep 20, 2015 South Dakota
    Society Trader

    This is an age-old topic, and the person to blame for the problem is...
    1. The brewer overproducing due to misreading (or ignoring) demand
    2. Distributors for buying more than stores want - in an effort to get better bulk pricing. Also discouraging retailers from returning or rejecting old beer
    3. Stores from taking too many different beers, not marketing them effectively, and not pulling and returning old beers for fear of hurting the relationship with the distributor. Also not rejecting beer that is old when distributor delivers it
    4. Consumers for buying beer without checking dates
    I avoid all of this by drinking almost exclusively BA high-ABV dark beers that keep well. I rarely think to check dates.
  11. nc41

    nc41 Poo-Bah (1,807) Sep 25, 2008 North Carolina

    The problem here imo starts with the Distributor, he’s out to make money, and he doesn’t care about the product to a great degree, he just needs to force the beer into his stores. Here the Distributors also stock the shelves so the beers could already be 6 months old, and TW has no clue. This assumes they care about fresh product, I suspect as long as it’s code they don’t care, they want to make money too. And your right some brewers brew too much forcing it into their distribution network. The only way a buyer wins is to find a smaller bottle shop that can’t afford to be stocking the shelves that are 6 month old to begin with, they reject it sending it back to the warehouse. Who then just retag it and send it to a TW.

    It’s no wonder sometimes I’m just as happy to buy PBR or Bud and just say the hell with it. But for the most part the problems are not a local beer problems, it’s regional and the national brewers that are having these problems. They are getting completely lost in the shuffle and it’s really a dilemma, some are starting to disappear from the shelves as the retailers can not afford to eat the beer they can’t sell. There’s empty space in the coolers, and space on the floor in smaller shops so product is being reduced, so someone is looking. Which brings us back to the Distributor problem, its a pain in the ass.
  12. southdenverhoo

    southdenverhoo Disciple (370) Aug 13, 2004 Colorado

    But most distributors we deal with won’t sell us beer they don’t think we can sell within code date, because they don’t want to have to pick it up and credit us. They are as watchful as we are, something new that they’re not sure will catch on in our market they’ll only sell me a case or two of, no matter how enthusiastic we might be, and how eager to get, say, a 10 case deal price on.

    Total is new in our state but not new to me as I’m frequently back home in VA. My understanding is they are able to buy not just pallet deals, but truckload deals. My SPECULATION is that Total rather than the distributors hold the power in their relationships and so the distributor is unable to exercise the restraint that they exercise over the little ($3M a year, all sales including beer, wine, liquor, cigs, snacks, and kegerator/draft supplies) one-unit retail store where I toil.
  13. rgordon

    rgordon Savant (930) Apr 26, 2012 North Carolina

    It's called free labor.
    westcoastbeerlvr and drtth like this.
  14. drtth

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

    Yep, and free labor, like free advice, is often worth what you pay for it. :wink:
  15. pat61

    pat61 Poo-Bah (5,484) Dec 29, 2010 Minnesota

    I have had the same experience at Total Wine with beer and I won't buy anything there without a date on it. I only go there once every couple of months - usually shop local.
    GuyFawkes, MNAle and TongoRad like this.
  16. rgordon

    rgordon Savant (930) Apr 26, 2012 North Carolina

    Actually, the large distributors have a dedicated salesperson/merchandiser and an individual merchandiser to follow each order that is delivered. These folks do excellent work and Total is very fortunate to receive such free service.
    drtth likes this.
  17. NYR-Zuuuuc

    NYR-Zuuuuc Zealot (581) Jan 1, 2013 Connecticut

    A new Total Wine opened near me a few years ago. I went for the Grand Opening, There was expired beer on the shelves at the Grand Opening, I thought that was pretty weak. It shows that it just wasn't a case of stock sitting there too long, the shelves were initially stocked with the expired beer....
  18. TongoRad

    TongoRad Poo-Bah (2,611) Jun 3, 2004 New Jersey
    Society Trader

    Yeah, I'm going to go against the crowd and say that I like having TW as a part of my rotation. You just have to think of their beer department as having 5 sections- 'craft', imports, seasonal, refrigerated and locals. And only one of those is a problem. All stores have their strengths and weaknesses, which is why I have a rotation in the first place.
  19. officerbill

    officerbill Aspirant (227) Feb 9, 2019 New York
    Society Trader

    A few years ago our local Wegman's expanded their beer selection to include a lot of imports & crafts.

    Weis decided they had to do the same so they fully stocked their beer section with a great variety, including some reallyrgood German imports; then realized that only a handful of their customers were willing to pay more than the equivalent of $2/beer.

    Those very good beers sat there gathering dust until last summer when when about 1/3 of their beer selection (including all but the major crafts) was replaced with "hard" seltzer, soda, and iced tea; which fly off the shelves.
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  20. officerbill

    officerbill Aspirant (227) Feb 9, 2019 New York
    Society Trader

    Do "enjoy by" or "best by" dates qualify as "pull dates", or is there some other code on the container and are these policies usually may or shall?
  21. drtth

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

    Except for when the distributor stocks the shelves with already or soon to be expired beer.
    JackHorzempa likes this.
  22. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (1,766) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey

    Well, yeah, they're all synonymous terms as far as I've ever heard/seen.

    Such as (from MillerCoors date code pdf):
  23. rgordon

    rgordon Savant (930) Apr 26, 2012 North Carolina

    There are lots of reasons/causes for old beer at retail. Wholesalers shipping close-dated or out of date beer, for breweries to ship close dated, old beer, or improperly rotated inventory. And for a retailer to buy too much and not selling through at a decent pace. There are likely other ways old beer persists.
    westcoastbeerlvr likes this.
  24. officerbill

    officerbill Aspirant (227) Feb 9, 2019 New York
    Society Trader

    Thanks, I wasn't sure if there was a consumer oriented ”best by” date and a different (confidential) commercial ”pull by” date.
  25. Milktoast75

    Milktoast75 Devotee (449) Oct 27, 2012 Wisconsin

    Local big grocery/ liquor store just reset their huge beer section. Reset was in cooler sections. What changed?
    1. Smaller import beer section.
    2. Local beers, Wisconsin breweries, no change.
    3. Craft beer section was moved to a secondary wall. Same size.
    4. Seltzers, ciders and malt flavored products now occupy the lead coolers with a huge increase in space.
    5. Floor displays also changed. Large seltzer and flavored products now mass displayed in prime traffic area previously used by macro beers.
    Beer rep building a seltzer display said “. . . it’s the new big thing.”
    Oh goody!
    A new big thing.
  26. joerooster

    joerooster Initiate (31) May 15, 2018 Virginia

    I understand the cost associated with keeping beer cold but for as much beer as they carry, a very small percentage of it is kept cold, whereas, every single grocery store I've shopped at in the past 20 years has 90+% of their beer in coolers.

    I'll take a smaller selection of fresh beer over a huge selection of old warm beer, every single time.
  27. Dandrewjohn

    Dandrewjohn Disciple (374) Apr 13, 2013 Texas

    My problem is I get so excited about finding something I've wanted to try that I sometimes forget to check the date, to my own detriment I'm afraid. There, I've confessed.
  28. f8met

    f8met Initiate (59) Jun 27, 2014 United Kingdom (England)

    Wonder how much is psychological? It's 2 months old from the date so is is going to be bad. Looks like another sales tactic to me.

    It's a new innovation in the UK, ironically created by Budweiser. All other beer has a best before which for some beers is a made up date. Seen a 10 year best before on some beers!

    Another reason for beer sitting around? It's because you are not buying it. Everyone is always looking for the next beer and may only buy a beer once.

    Overstocking is a big factor for sure. Stores will only sell X amount per week but they have >X and keep buying, having to constantly keep customers looking for new beer happy. How many go in to a store only to go buy from another store that has something different as they have had all that is on offer? That doesn't move stock.
    beertunes likes this.
  29. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,005) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    I wonder how long the alcoholic seltzer ‘trend’ will last. Will it be as long as the wine cooler thing? Or the clear malternative (e.g., Zima) thing? Or the…


    P.S. Maybe the next, next new thing will be New England Malternatives? A hazy Zima anybody?
  30. SMH_NWI

    SMH_NWI Devotee (404) Jan 8, 2015 Texas

    TW is growing and learning. The owners/ceo’s are wine guys, that’s why they added “And More” to the end of Total Wine.

    They started in Delaware in the early 90’s and had less than 100 stores by 2016. Since 2016, they’ve opened over 100 stores and approaching 200 total stores. Also close to $4b in revenue.

    Growing and learning. Can’t make everyone happy over night. I love the stores in Houston - 12 stores in Houston with the 13th opening soon - and get a ton of my beer there, usually fresh
    drtth and TongoRad like this.
  31. officerbill

    officerbill Aspirant (227) Feb 9, 2019 New York
    Society Trader

    Thank you for your support
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  32. drtth

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

    Oh, I'm sure of all that, but I've had the experience of picking up an out of code beer that was so recently stocked that the clerk had to go to the office for a price check. Furthermore no distributor should be sending old beer to a retailer in the first place and I know that has happened, too.
    pjeagles likes this.
  33. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,005) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    And I too know that has happened even though industry folks (@SierraTerence) choose to not believe me without 'proof'.

  34. rgordon

    rgordon Savant (930) Apr 26, 2012 North Carolina

    True, but it does happen. I'm not taking any sides on this issue. There's enough blame to go around as is. Paying attention at all points of a beer's journey through the market and clear and easy to understand dating on all bottles and cans would help.
  35. drtth

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

    Which is understandable given that they can do nothing meaningful without proof and a complaint by an anonymous person on a web site isn't good enough to "go to court with."
  36. drtth

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

    Just adding a couple of reasons to your list of problems that can develop.
  37. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,005) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    True enough and the distributing beer industry (Breweries, Wholesale Distributors, and Retailers) really should take this issue of too much old beer on retailers shelves seriously and work together to rectify it if they want to have successful (e.g., profitable) businesses in 2019 and beyond. The craft beer market is very dynamic with lots of changes (e.g., soon to be 8000+ breweries) and if the distributing beer industry wants to succeed it is in their self interests to make changes accordingly.

    It is popular for folks to blame the distributors (e.g., @nc41) and I get that since there are the infamous 'middle men' of the supply chain. Dale is an informed beer consumer so he has a good appreciation for the role that the Wholesale Distributors play here. A more casual beer consumer would just purchase a beer from a retailer not knowing the beer is too old and simply 'chalk up' their less than pleasant drinking experience as Brewery x makes shitty beer and say: I will never purchase beer from Brewery x ever again. Is Brewery x well served here? That is an easy question to answer: no, Brewery x is 'damaged' here.

    The present day craft beer market is hyper-competitive right now. The distributing beer industry needs the participation (i.e., money) from all segments of the craft beer consumers. The money from casual consumers who do not check dates but expect a pleasant drinking experience and the money from non-casual beer consumers who check dates and will replace the old 6-pack back on the shelf and perhaps leave the store (e.g., Total Wine & More) without making a beer purchase.

    My 'local' Total Wine & More is in my neighboring state a Delaware (Claymont, DE) and when I go there I will construct a list of 8-10 beer brands that I am interested in purchasing. On more than one occasion I have left that store with none of those beers (i.e., zero purchases of beer) because I could not find fresh product. It is not to this store's financial benefit that they received no beer money from me. In this specific case of buying from Total Wine & More I choose to place the majority of the blame on the distributors. I have had conversation with distributor personnel while shopping that store and after they were done stocking beer brand y on the shelf I would go back to check the dates of those recently stocked beers to see that they were old beers. Quite disappointing.:slight_frown:

    Non-cheers to so much old beer on shelves!!
    cavedave, tzieser, nc41 and 2 others like this.
  38. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,005) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    Needless to say but I will not be "going to court". I will instead provide my beer money to another brewery.

  39. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,005) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    Yup, that was in 1991. That store was called Liquor World at that time and I used to shop there regularly. Sometime later (late 1990’s I believe) they changed the name to Total Beverage.

    But the two brothers who started this chain had prior beer business experience:

    “In 1985, Trone and family members opened stores in the Pittsburgh area known as Beer and Pop Warehouse and later Beer World, though legal experiences in Pennsylvania led them to leave the state.”

    The legal experiences mentioned above refers to the fact that in PA a person (or family) is restricted in how many beer retail licenses they can own. If you want an expanding business (i.e., multiple retail outlets) you need to setup retail businesses elsewhere (outside of PA).

    The Trone Brothers have been selling beer for over three decades. That is long enough to learn this business. For some reason they prefer to not learn about the importance of beer freshness over those 30+ years. Perhaps market conditions in 2019/2020 will ‘encourage’ them to learn this lesson? Or maybe they will just concentrate on the wine & spirits portion and decide to just make whatever money they can from the casual beer consumer segment of the market? I suppose with time we may learn more here?


    RobH likes this.
  40. rgordon

    rgordon Savant (930) Apr 26, 2012 North Carolina

    I agree completely. Thing is, all of this is no recent phenomenon. The local beer explosion has only exacerbated and accelerated an old problem. There is more good beer to drink than there are people to drink it.
    cavedave likes this.