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

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

  1. Mortarforker

    Mortarforker Crusader (777) Oct 27, 2004 Texas

    It's a very REAL problem around Wichita Falls,TX too.I sent pictures and called Oskar Blues in Austin to inform them that a couple of spots in town were selling beers like Dales Pale Ale and others that are one year and in some cases two years old.They were shocked that this was going on.I learned a long time ago to check dates on beers.You would check the date on other perishable items such as milk and bread so you should also check dates on beer.Just imagine someone walks in thinking ,hey I remember my friend saying how good Dales Pale ale is and he grabs a year old six pack and goes home to drink a beer that tastes like it was strained through a hobo's sock.
    VABA and nc41 like this.
  2. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (1,765) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey

    Musta been a new hire answering the phone on their first day of work. :wink:
  3. drtth

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

    That does seem strange, must be related in someway to your local market. The closest TW near me has sixpacks of both bottles and cans.
  4. nc41

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

    I did the same thing too after seeing old Fales and they took immediate action and sent me a six of G Knight too.
  5. officerbill

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

    At my grocery AB/Miller/Coors/Molson are the only brands stocked & rotated by the distributor. My son worked there in high school, he tells me they keep cases back in the stock area and store employees restock the shelves when a product sells
  6. zac16125

    zac16125 Poo-Bah (1,782) Jan 26, 2010 South Carolina

    Their wine selection is pretty good though.
    tzieser likes this.
  7. JackHorzempa

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

    In post #157 I sorta addressed this topic but permit me to further discuss:

    How folks who check dates affect the craft beer market

    What percentage of craft beer consumers check dates? I think it is safe to say it is likely a minority of the craft beer consumer market but a value larger than those that are macro beer consumers.

    I would suggest that in today’s hyper-competitive beer market the distributing beer industry really needs to optimize beer sales to all segments of the beer consumer market. There is already more brewing capacity than there is demand for beer and losing sales to x% of the beer market could be critical to keeping certain segments of the distributing craft beer industry (i.e., certain breweries) in business.

    What about the folks who don’t check dates?

    In post #157 posted:

    “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.”

    I would argue that Brewery x needs all of the business they can achieve and needless to say disenfranchising casual beer consumers will not foster sales. If Brewery x is not at the moment a thriving business this disenfranchisement could result in critical consequences.

    I will make the following suggestions on how we can monitor this situation:

    · In 2019/2020 keep an eye out for how many distributing breweries file bankruptcy proceedings, consolidate (i.e., sell out to an umbrella company such as Artisanal Beverage Ventures), or simply go out of business

    · Keep track of how many new small, local breweries open in our areas

    On the second bullet item above I can report that the growth of small, local breweries in my area of SEPA is EXPLOSIVE!

    Also, I will be going to a beer event tomorrow for a local distributing brewery of Weyerbacher that is presently in bankruptcy. I will be drinking some Weyerbacher beer but I hope to chat with the brewers of Weyerbacher that will be in attendance to see if I can ‘pick their brains’ on how the business is going while they adjust to new ownership and restructure under the conditions of bankruptcy.


    P.S. You can read more about Weyerbacher in this thread:
  8. RobH

    RobH Defender (622) Sep 23, 2006 Maryland

    Just stating facts of an ever-evolving business climate that TW, and every other retailer, exists within. Not "trying" anything, so not sure what you mean there. This is just conversation.

    I used muni stores as an example you'd be aware of as a Minnesotan; regardless of whether you shop there or not. Your personal use of it is irrelevant to the example. And I am aware of at least one of the private stores that went out of business, which, as I recall, was so specialized in craft beer only that it had ALL of its business "eggs in that one fragile basket", with no diversification of product offering; just craft beer. It was too reliant on the craft beer geek demographic it had banked on being willing to always pay top price for bottles. It just doesn't work that way in the real world for most product categories. Their business failure is nobody's fault but theirs. Their business model was reliant on their store existing in a retail bubble where they would essentially be the only source for craft beer around.

    And that's the similar medicine the muni stores experienced after having enjoyed decades of a relative monopolistic existence where they got away with a mediocre product selection (by today's standards) and high prices because consumers had no other choices.

    Welcome to America. Someone is always coming up with a new mousetrap. Just ask the regional craft breweries (and retail stores, by the way) that are now ceding considerable market share and sales to the hyper locals selling beer directly out of their little breweries scattered across the landscape...
  9. MNAle

    MNAle Meyvn (1,439) Sep 6, 2011 Minnesota

    Nice of you to reply to me without mentioning or quoting, but anyway....

    I, too, am aware of the store you describe, but it is not one of the ones to which I was referring.

    I find the whole "in it for the benefit of the consumer" argument to be too cute by half, and disingenuous.

    Your business is legal, and fits the American free market system well. It also puts smaller stores out of business. It also badly treats beer, both in how inventory is managed and how beers are displayed for sale.

    One of my main points, though, was how members here rant on and on about AB-Inbev being against the little guy while happily carrying out their hauls of "independent craft" from TW because it is $0.50 a six pack less expensive.
  10. Beer_Stan

    Beer_Stan Initiate (99) Mar 15, 2014 California

    A store the size of TW seems to not be focused on having healthy rotation of stock by unit instead bloating the shelf with constant stock regardless of actual sales data or shelf dates, essentially keeping the shelves full no matter what for the sake of appearing plentiful shelf wise regardless of the truth of the product. It's a waste of beer and a highly unsustainable model but they aren't even flinching about it and that lack of caring will hurt them as the craft beer community becomes more and more informed as a whole and more ardent about fresh or kept cold beer offerings, lest they invest into themselves and install more cold storage for all of their beer offerings (or at least most). Smaller stores installing "beer caves" with a more rotated stock by freshness and sku will serve the customers better moving forward and can more easily survive the shifting sands of the craftbeer zeitgeist if they play their cards right. Just my opinion based on what I do, what I've done and what I see.
    JMN44 likes this.
  11. JerzDevl2000

    JerzDevl2000 Poo-Bah (2,643) Oct 7, 2005 New Jersey

    I'm in Jersey too - which Total Wine was this at?
  12. RobH

    RobH Defender (622) Sep 23, 2006 Maryland

    OK. I will endeavor to leave it here with the following:

    Fact is, @MNAle, I do a lot more reading of posts than writing here on BA, and I agree with YOUR posts on all subjects at hand more often than not, and "like" them accordingly.

    But we disagree on this point. If Total Wine trying to get the law in Massachusetts changed so it can offer consumers discount coupons and the choice to opt in for benefits that are offered with a customer Loyalty program would not be a "benefit to the consumer" according to your beliefs, and you believe that suggesting such is "too cute by half," then in my experience you are in the minority on that issue, but that's OK.

    In an effort to understand why you may think that way, I suppose it may be hard to relate to such a thing there in MN since the law there also prohibits discount coupons on alcohol. I guess that means the MN state lawmakers are looking out for the people of MN's best interest with that law, because you'll of course purchase less alcohol if you don't have coupons. Good of them to help you and your fellow Minnesotans like that with your personal purchase and consumption decisions that you all wouldn't be able to make on your own in an otherwise free country.

    As for beer merchandising, there is plenty of valid criticism, from you and others, that I do agree with. I'm a consumer, too. It ain't perfect by any stretch. Agree 100%. And that also speaks to my point, which is people do have choices in where they purchase beer. There is competition out there, strong competition in many ways from many directions, with competitors being preferred by plenty of consumers. TW will never get everybody's business, even if every last bottle/can of beer were <= 2 weeks old and stored at 38 degrees.

    So, given all of TW's flaws, and the fact that no discount coupons were offered resulting in "predatory" pricing there in MN, I wonder what it was about those stores that went out of business that just wasn't resonating with consumers enough for those stores to compete against a highly flawed Total Wine? Seriously, why could they not compete when others could and still do?
  13. JackHorzempa

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

    LuskusDelph and GuyFawkes like this.
  14. MNAle

    MNAle Meyvn (1,439) Sep 6, 2011 Minnesota

    @RobH ... I never said what TW did did not benefit the consumer. I said it was disingenuous for TW to claim that is WHY they did it. Offering discounts is far easier, financially, for a large chain to do than a small one-owner shop, in any retail market. For TW to attempt to claim they don't fight these laws, and several others, for precisely this reason is too cute by half and disingenuous. Anyone who does not do the eye-roll when hearing that is naive.

    I don't have access to the financials of the stores that closed. I just note that when the two TWs nearest me opened, nearby stores closed relatively soon thereafter. And, I observe that many of the defenders of "independent" when it comes to breweries have no problem with that, and I wonder why.

    I have no issue with the free market economy, the best business case surviving, and all that. And, that applies equally to AB-Inbev, Wal Mart, Home Depot, and TW. My issue is with disingenuous hypocrisy.
    JMN44 and RobH like this.
  15. RobH

    RobH Defender (622) Sep 23, 2006 Maryland

    I hear your point and would like to posit one thought: I think you are reading those words, "benefit the consumer," as stand-alone without adding in the un-said/written part of the equation those words belong with, which of course is if Total Wine (any retailer) can be allowed by law to deliver a product or service or price that most consumers would consider to be beneficial to them, then that retailer of course is going to reap business rewards for doing so. I don't think that has to be spelled out. It's the natural conclusion, so there's nothing hypocritical in not saying it; it really goes without saying. So, of course it can also be beneficial to the retailer. Again, any retailer that elects to pursue that business approach. But the retailer has to make the first move by figuring out a business model in which they can offer such coupons and Loyalty benefits while remaining profitable enough to stay in business over the long haul.

    I think it would be a whole different story if a company were trying to get laws changed that ended up being non-beneficial (or even harmful) to consumers with their wallets, their choices, their purchase options, their privacy, etc. I don't see TW doing that here or anywhere.
    DonicBoom, JackHorzempa and drtth like this.
  16. jonphisher

    jonphisher Initiate (190) Aug 9, 2015 New Jersey

    All these craft breweries that became successful did so before all these local places opened up. Hence most of their success. Now that small and local is everywhere that is where beer will shift. Only way to make sure freshest is to buy small and local. Unless you get lucky with a fresh season shipment. The victory buyout/southern tier merge, the DFH merger today, I’m pretty sure big craft is losing their mind right now. They all make great beers but local, good and fresh will prevail IMO.
  17. pianoguy

    pianoguy Disciple (346) Feb 14, 2015 Washington

    Caveat Emptor has been around since... That's why I always bring my reading glasses when I buy beer !
    tolar111 likes this.
  18. HappyRaven

    HappyRaven Initiate (33) Oct 25, 2015 Nebraska

    It's easy to say stores like TW should just buy less. But theres a reason they don't. They have the space to buy as much as they can. Doing that gets them volume deals which they can then price beers cheaper, under cutting their competitors. Mom and pop stores cant buy in bulk together these discounts.

    It gets worse in some states where they can just send out of date beer back to the distributor, who is forced to buy it back. So TW it whoever buys beer in bulk at a discount because they have more room, and whatever they dont sell they send back at no cost to them.

    Support good local places, and you will have much less problems with freshness. And have a better, curated selection as well
    JMN44 and GuyFawkes like this.
  19. Giantspace

    Giantspace Crusader (707) Dec 22, 2011 Pennsylvania

    A friend of mine who drinks much better beer than me never looks at dates. Sure he drinks better beer than me but most times it’s pretty old and not good. Last week he brought some August 2018 IPA he had just bought a case of. I don’t say anything anymore as he always has some reason as to why it was purchased with out checking. I can’t difire our how he can enjoy fresh great beer and still be happy when that same beer is quite old.

    So yes, many beer drinkers do not check dates.

    drtth and nc41 like this.
  20. nc41

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

    Seems to me that he doesn’t buy or drink better beer than you do. Old stale beer is never a winner regardless of the name on the label. If his palate is that forgiving good for him, but I can’t do old ipas, sounds like it’s not for you either.
  21. LifesAnesthesia

    LifesAnesthesia Crusader (729) Dec 17, 2014 Virginia

    Honestly, I'd still have picked that up - RuinTen was absolutely amazing. It's already been aged for you =)
    Harrison8 likes this.
  22. Ranbot

    Ranbot Champion (857) Nov 27, 2006 Pennsylvania

    Maybe we should not be surprised that "Total Wine" does not handle beer well.
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  23. TongoRad

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

    Again, I think that the one in River Edge NJ does a pretty good job.

    My takeaway is that even for a chain, it's not all that useful to make blanket assumptions about them.
    Bitterbill likes this.
  24. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (1,765) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey

    Yeah, never been to a Total Wine (their NJ stores are too far north or south of me) but whenever I see someone say "But be sure to check the dates!" (including me) about any retailer, I always think - and sometimes even reply:

    "Yeah, OK, good advice. But at what off-premise retail establishment is that NOT the case?"

    There might be some retailers who will now respond, "Well, you've never been to my store," and they're right. Pre-pay a rental car for me (sorry, I get motion sick on buses, trains and planes) and I'll gladly visit and drop a hundred bucks or so...:grin:
  25. JackHorzempa

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

    And recently there have been more and more purchasing of packaged beers directly from the plethora (and expanding number) of small, local breweries. The 'complexion' of beer retailing is changing.


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  26. nc41

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

    From a BA student I’d say that’s true, but they get a lot of help from the Distributors, and the guys receiving beer that are a bit above min wage, might not drink beer, poorly trained, the store staff might not even know they date the cans. So its a corporate problem as much as anything, and individual stores might vary. But still a good many of the 6 the month old beers are still in date and sellable, and this is where they lose it. Most beer drinkers don’t know about dates and then they might decide the beer isn’t so great and it’s expensive. So the best way to buy beer is from the brewery if that’s possible
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  27. JackHorzempa

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

    And I can report that is happening more and more in my area at the ever growing number of small. local breweries that opened last year and are continuing to open this year.

    Bitterbill, GuyFawkes and nc41 like this.
  28. nc41

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

    At least you can control your own beer destiny by making sure it’s optimal. It’s a double win if the brewery has talent though, never a given.
    Bitterbill likes this.
  29. lastmango

    lastmango Crusader (775) Dec 11, 2014 Pennsylvania

    Agree. Noticed this at a lot of beer distributors. They do not seem to care either!
  30. bradybeer

    bradybeer Defender (669) Aug 9, 2005 California

    Same for Bevmo. I have not been in years. I am stuck in a hamster wheel. Since I haven't been going I no longer know what is fresh, yes I could check for dates. However if I need to check dates I am out
  31. nc41

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

    Unfortunately you should always check dates, if Ca uses a three tier system the Distributors just want to push beer out of their warehouse. The only place I don’t check dates is if I’m buying right from the brewery, but that’s the only exception on time sensitive beers. I wouldn’t hesitate to buy Stouts from TW, I’ll find the best price. This is the best and worst beer market I’ve ever seen, best because our distro is expanding bringing in lots of great beers, the worst because there’s so many beers on the shelf aged beers are very common.
  32. JackHorzempa

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

    Yup, I agree with you here.

    In past threads I have even discussed that maybe it would be 'better' if beer retailers limited the number of brands that they carry with the hope that a lesser amount of brands results in quicker turnover and fresher beer on the shelves.

    Bitterbill and rgordon like this.
  33. mickyge

    mickyge Champion (833) Nov 1, 2014 Massachusetts
    Society Trader

    I've been burnt to many times in the "mix in match" aisles in a few stores, I won't do it anymore. I recently bought a local beer I love that was on the loose shelf and had a date of only 3 weeks old that was skunked. The sad part was I could have drove 10 minutes from where I was and bought it at the brewery. I'm betting someone broke a 4 pack out of the cooler and the store put the leftovers on the room temperature loose shelf. I'll buy only cold or full 4 packs from them from now on.
    I have been in more than a few bottle shops that sell "craft beer" only to find the dates over 6 to 12 months old. I guess it's hard as a vendor to anticipate supply and demand.
    It has to be rough for local bottle shops to keep up with all the new beer tends recently especially with all the small breweries popping up.
    Maybe Total Wine, because of their volume, stands out but stores aren't going to eat 100's of dollars of shelf turds we "beer snobs" pass over. Just my opinion and we aren't really beer snobs just educated consumers. Cheers.
  34. kdb150

    kdb150 Devotee (436) Mar 8, 2012 Pennsylvania

    It's certainly the case at all the best beer retailers around me.

    It's simply not possible to stock the 500+ labels these stores want to carry and not end up having old beer out on the floor, judging by the fact that no beer retailer seems able (or willing) to pull it off. Maybe the answer is to carry fewer labels, or at least to be willing to run out of stock on things until you can get new, fresh stock in - but even that is dependent on having a good quality distribution partner who is supplying you with consistently fresh product.

    In other words, it indeed happens everywhere and is probably never going to change.
    Bitterbill likes this.
  35. MistaRyte

    MistaRyte Devotee (477) Jan 14, 2008 Virginia

    Just got back from San Jose and, yeah, I think of BevMo as the "Pacific Total Wine" now. I did luck out and got some month-old Heretic Evil Cousin, but had to be a malt-maid and check the dates!
  36. HopsAreDaMan

    HopsAreDaMan Defender (667) Jul 28, 2015 Missouri

    I was at a Total Wine today, and I noticed that they had a number of 4-packs of FW Gen-1 sitting on the shelf with a canned on date just beyond 6 months: it was dated at mid-November of 2018 (I think it was 11-15-18). When I told the manager he said, "Oh. They told us that it was fresh. I'll make sure to destroy these." I am guessing 'they' was a reference to the distributor. Not a bad response, but ultimately the responsibility for stocking old beer is on Total Wine--even if they have the distributor actually put the beer on the shelves.

    That same visit I was looking for a local IPA that I checked the date on and noticed was bottled in the middle of January of this year, and there were cases of it stacked nearly eye-level (NOT in a cooler). I'm sure it's still drinkable at four months old, but I passed on it. It's sad, because those that try it will not be drinking it anywhere near it's best, and it will only continue to degrade.

    As others have mentioned, something will have to give. I realize it is a delicate balance for the retailers of not running out of the product VS having old product sit and slowly degrade. And I'm guessing the brewer/distributor loves that Total Wine buys so much of their beer; but at what point is having too much of their old product sitting around on the floor at all of the Total Wines in the area going to end up hurting the brewery? I remember about the same time last year seeing a similar beer (I believe it was an IPA) from this brewer sit around in stacks on the floor in a different Total Wine in the area that was I think roughly 4-5 months old.
    drtth and JackHorzempa like this.
  37. MistaRyte

    MistaRyte Devotee (477) Jan 14, 2008 Virginia

    Yesterday I peeked into TW to get wine for SWMBO. I noticed some Oozlefinch cans had the TW stick on barcode adhered OVER their canned on date on the can (theirs is printed on can itself, not the bottom). You have to take your fingernail and peel off the barcode to get to the date.

    Things that make you say HMMMMMMMM
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  38. ToddSoonerFan

    ToddSoonerFan Aspirant (297) Aug 23, 2013 Iowa

    Ouch! Our hyvee in Johnston IA used to be kinda like that. But that is Unacceptable.
    Harrison8 likes this.