What are your gripes about bottle shops?

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by howtoservebeer, Jun 3, 2018.

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  1. sportscrazed2

    sportscrazed2 Defender (653) Mar 29, 2010 American Samoa

    My biggest gripe is that I need to buy an entire 4/6 pack to try something I like. Trader Joes allows me to grab a single out of every pack and just be charged proportionally. Why can't other places do this? Most places with pick sixes usually are garbage.
    GuyFawkes likes this.
  2. Squire

    Squire Poo-Bah (2,803) Jul 16, 2015 Mississippi
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    Dust reminds me of clutter and when I see cluttered merchandise I immediately think the owner has a cluttered mind. No matter, if it's not clearly dated I won't buy it no matter how fresh it looks.
    deleted_user_971432, drtth and eppCOS like this.
  3. CrimeDog

    CrimeDog Initiate (0) Dec 31, 2015 New York

    How bout when a sales associate tries to sell you a 2 year old IPA....
  4. eppCOS

    eppCOS Poo-Bah (2,026) Jun 27, 2015 Colorado

    1. Old beer
    2. Old beer
    3. Old beer
    4. Old beer
    5... yep, old beer.
    GuyFawkes and CrimeDog like this.
  5. teromous

    teromous Poo-Bah (3,433) Mar 21, 2010 Virginia
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    Total Wine has one of the most obnoxious methods of organizing their beer. Fortunately their staff is always helpful when it comes to tracking down beer in their store.

    I went to their store looking for a beer, so I went to the domestics isle. This was organized by the name of the U.S. brewery. The beer wasn't there so I checked with the staff and I was told it is normally kept in the cooler if it isn't on the shelf, so I picked it up there. I used their website to look up another beer from the same brewery and it said it was located in the domestic cases isle. It wasn't there, wasn't on the shelf alphabetically, and wasn't in the cooler. At the front desk they told me it was a seasonal and took me to a different area for seasonal beers. Singles are organized by style rather than by brewery, unless they are an import, where they are organized by country. If you can't find a single based on style, it is likely that it has been filed under the seasonal section or the limited release area (or whatever they call it). If there is a bottle limit then you have to ask the front desk because they keep them behind the counter. They usually place different seasonals at different isle end-caps so it's best to check all of them if you're looking for something newer.

    All of this chaos usually means that you can find a few sixers or singles that are well past their expiration date, scattered at one or more of the numerous locations it could normally be found. I've found "hoppy" beers that have been over a year old.

    I'm convinced that they are using the hardware store approach and spreading things out and making it more confusing so that you spend more time in the store.
  6. MistaRyte

    MistaRyte Defender (685) Jan 14, 2008 Virginia

    I hate to poop on local bootle shops, but yeah, exceptionALE has their IPAs/DIPAs right up front on the right when you walk in the door. They have shades at the front but none on the front door. Pretty sure they don't have a good tint on the doors.

    bottleBOX, on the other hand, IPAs/DIPAs in the deep back, apart from the new release island at the front. Total Wine Norfolk I applaud as well... they used to have their beer baking in the middle of the store where the sidewindow light could fall on it. Now it's all in the back (majority still not refrigerated though)
  7. MNAle

    MNAle Poo-Bah (2,412) Sep 6, 2011 Minnesota

    Absolutely, that is what they are doing.
  8. Squire

    Squire Poo-Bah (2,803) Jul 16, 2015 Mississippi
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    The word I noticed there is 'tries'.
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  9. readyski

    readyski Defender (603) Jun 4, 2005 California
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    Ha kind of like casinos too with no windows, clocks or easy way out!
    Junior and meefmoff like this.
  10. ndepriest

    ndepriest Initiate (155) Feb 21, 2012 Georgia

    Anyone bitching about old beer on the shelf has never worked in a bottle shop. In many states it's illegal to mark alcohol below the purchase cost (bye-bye priced to move beer), and distributors won't pick up old stock unless A. it's a full case and B. the brewery includes a clear best-by date. Retailers get the shaft because neither the distributor nor the brewery want to take responsibility for old beer.

    Mark-ups on beer aren't great to begin with, and, outside of some chain stores, independent retailers can't take the hit of throwing beer in the garbage. Out of date beer is a huge issue, but it would be more helpful to contact the brewery with the old brews than to complain to some underpaid stock-boy about a problem they can't fix.
  11. bbtkd

    bbtkd Poo-Bah (14,609) Sep 20, 2015 South Dakota
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    Some stores figure that it will be more difficult to sell the remaining singles. Some may also be concerned that if they sell singles, people won't bother buying packs. Both are valid concerns. I myself would rather try a single, so I frequent shops where I can do that. Or find it on tap. I only buy packs of new-to-me beers when I am confident I'll like it, based on reviews or brewery reputation.
    KarlHungus and GuyFawkes like this.
  12. utopiajane

    utopiajane Initiate (0) Jun 11, 2013 New York

    Me too I stopped going to a shop because the fellow kept trying to tell me that beer never expires. There are only two shops in my town and my complaint about the other is that they never have the popcorn popped when I go there.
    Beer_Economicus and Squire like this.
  13. Squire

    Squire Poo-Bah (2,803) Jul 16, 2015 Mississippi
    Society Trader

    Valid concerns and the retailer has my sympathy. However that comes under the heading "risk of doing business" and just because they are getting the shaft is no excuse to expect me to pay to get shafted also.
  14. Lone_Freighter

    Lone_Freighter Initiate (0) Jun 4, 2017 Vermont

    Uhmmmmm, how does this guy have a job?
  15. gopens44

    gopens44 Poo-Bah (2,423) Aug 9, 2010 Virginia
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    I can deal with pretty much anything except poor customer service. Act as if I'm interrupting your life and I'll do you a solid and not bother you ever again.
    Lahey, Junior, bbtkd and 1 other person like this.
  16. Squire

    Squire Poo-Bah (2,803) Jul 16, 2015 Mississippi
    Society Trader

    Al Capone said kindness and a gun will get you further than kindness alone. I on the other hand find kindness, politeness and even generosity work best for me. If a clerk is having a bad day for any reason I'm not going to add to that by coming across as a difficult customer who is accustomed to getting their way. Offering to meet people more than halfway diffuses uncomfortable situations before they ever arise. That costs me nothing and makes things easier for them.
  17. Raime

    Raime Meyvn (1,325) Jun 4, 2012 Korea (North)

    When a shop owner doesn't know anything about craft beer but is quick to recommend the newest bud light a rita to the next customer that comes through the door
  18. howtoservebeer

    howtoservebeer Initiate (24) May 24, 2018 Spain

    But sometimes I wonder, with sooo many SKUs around, I can't fault the staff for not know certain beers that are on the shelves.
    And with the staff turnover, I can't imagine the owners having to train the new staff on the beers available.

    I do agree price tags are a must. Else how does the staff even know what's the right price to charge amongst the huge amount of SKUs in the store?
  19. Squire

    Squire Poo-Bah (2,803) Jul 16, 2015 Mississippi
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    I appreciate a clerk having knowledge and enthusiasm for the products they sell yet I honestly don't care if they know anything at all about beer because I already know what I like so just point me in the right direction and stay out of my way.
  20. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (2,514) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
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    So... based on this thread (and countless others), BA's don't like that so much out-of-code beer is on the shelves of their local stores. I know I don't.

    BUT... so, what would happen if, overnight (thanks FBFs*!), all that old beer was pulled and replaced?
    *Fresh Beer Fairies - and you thought they were just a myth...

    Would the store sell anymore beer than they do today? Maybe that particular store would sell more of a particular beer but would their total sales volume change? And if it did, wouldn't that come out of another local store's volume?

    Would you buy more beer? Maybe you'd buy other beer but wouldn't you then buy less of something else? (I don't know, I never go thirsty and I doubt many BAs pick ups some Poland Spring instead of beer in disgust at the stale beers of the shelves. And we won't even discuss all those overflowing cellars too many of us have).

    And, if instead of it being the work of those FBFs, if all the old beer was pulled by the brewers or distributors, would they replace it with fresh stock? Why would they? It didn't sell/stopped selling originally and if every store in the region got fresh XYZ IPA, how much would be sold before it, too, was out-of-date? I think it's a myth that the old stock on the shelves is there because it's out of date and people are passing on it for that reason - more likely the demand was never there to justify the quantity originally purchased by the retailer.

    Sure, maybe some of it would sell, but that's not the current craft segment of the market works. I see people on these forums boast of never having bought a case of beer and/or complain about having to buy a sixpack. Tickers whose purchases are based on that rather than taste or preference. People complain about a brewer dropping a beer because of poor sales, but admit they haven't bought it in years and if it came back, why, they might even buy a sixpack! ( if the store didn't have singles).

    And would the retailers even want all those beers back on their shelves that didn't sell - or, stopped selling - in the first place? Sure, everyone likes a store with a "great selection" but it is the rare "A" rated store that's being discussed on these forums or reviews without someone warning "Oh, but be sure to check the dates on the beer - they've got a lot of old stock." What store with a large selection doesn't?
    #100 jesskidden, Jun 12, 2018
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2018
  21. nc41

    nc41 Poo-Bah (2,771) Sep 25, 2008 North Carolina
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    Well a big problem is inventory control, so it gets exponentially more difficult once you have singles on the shelf vs 4 packs or sixers . The single aisle in Total Wine is a great place to find 8 month old IPAs. I'm guessing it takes a lot for time for the retailer to make his money back splitting into singles, so it hurts cash flow, and it takes up more room. For smaller retailers it's not a plus.
    drtth likes this.
  22. Lahey

    Lahey Initiate (0) Nov 12, 2016 Michigan

    There's a store I go to that has an end cap for new beers. I saw a couple sixers of an ipa on it that I knew were probably a year or more old that were put there after becoming old and dusty. Good thing I pay attention when I visit.
    Beer_Economicus likes this.
  23. RobH

    RobH Disciple (358) Sep 23, 2006 Maryland

    Nailed it! Drop the mic.
  24. Lahey

    Lahey Initiate (0) Nov 12, 2016 Michigan

    I agree with your point, but it would be nice if once a year stores would clear out the old ipas and brewers would buy them back. Start over fresh. That way we don't have to look at 6 packs of the same stuff for YEARS at a time.
  25. MNAle

    MNAle Poo-Bah (2,412) Sep 6, 2011 Minnesota

    So, in summary, managing the inventory of craft beer is really hard, especially given all the tickers out there. Therefore, stores are justified in selling old crap to their customers, hoping they don't notice until it is too late. Is that what you are saying?
    GuyFawkes likes this.
  26. MilkLeg

    MilkLeg Initiate (141) Feb 8, 2016 Canada (AB)

    Maybe this is because I'm from Canada and I've never heard the term used in a conversation but the phrase "bottle shop" just sounds pretentious to me. It's a called a liquor store where I'm from, and almost every one I've ever been to sells the cheapest swill alongside the good craft beer. I would love to walk into a store that exclusively sold bottles (or cans) of amazing craft beer but that just isn't a reality.
    nc41 and Lahey like this.
  27. Lahey

    Lahey Initiate (0) Nov 12, 2016 Michigan

    Yeah, I just assumed other people were in way more lucrative areas than me. All my stores are grocery stores or liquor stores.
    MilkLeg likes this.
  28. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (2,514) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
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    Nope. I'm saying that, given the situation as described, it would be costly for distributors - who, in most cases by contract, are supposed to do it - brewers or retailers to pull all the old beer. And, in business, who ultimately pays? The consumer via higher prices. Or, the alternative would mean much less variety per store in most cases.

    So, I guess, live with it. It's wrong, it's annoying and frustrating, there's no justification for it - just an explanation of how things got this way and why it is unlikely to change overnight.

    It is a LOT easier to find date codes than it once was - after all, if it wasn't, there couldn't be a 3pg, 100+ post thread made up mostly of "old beer" comments. 10-20 years ago, the bigger complaint in a pet peeve thread would have been "No date codes". Well, now we've got the codes more frequently, easier to read and on more brands (and what did we expect the results would be other than a lot of old beer?) - use 'em.

    Check the codes and buy what you consider fresh, ignore the rest (the old and undated), complain to the appropriate three tier member when you feel like it or think it might help, and don't mind the constant eye-rolls and misinformation.*

    For me, there's enough variety on the shelves (and already in my DBF back home) that I'm never stuck with "no beer" 'cause I can't find something fresh enough to buy.

    * ADDENDUM: A few weeks back, I got into a conversation with what struck me initially as a pretty well-informed bartender. She knew and had visited all the breweries in the area, knew the area distributors and their brands, knew all their ~30 beers on tap, their styles, the hops used in their IPAs, etc.

    We then discussed area off-premise retailers and she mentioned a big liquor store associated with a grocery chain in a neighboring town.

    JK: "Oh, yeah, they've got a huge inventory but it's often hard to find something fresh."

    Bartender: "Oh, that doesn't matter with craft beer - they don't go bad. That's only Budweiser, Miller and beers like that that go bad."

    JK: :astonished:

    (Walks away, thinks to herself "What an ignorant asshole...").

    Thinks to myself, too late: ("Aw, @#$!, I shoulda said, "Well, then, why do you think all these "craft" brewers put freshness or bottling dates on their bottles and cans?" )

    But, driving home I did laugh, thinking:
    "Well, that was different, at least. Used to be the myth was:
    'Oh, those beers are full of preservatives and chemicals and they last forever'..."

    #108 jesskidden, Jun 14, 2018
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2018
  29. bbtkd

    bbtkd Poo-Bah (14,609) Sep 20, 2015 South Dakota
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    Not sure how many people actually check dates and walk away from old beer, but I suspect a very small percentage. Most folks just grab-and-go. Later when it sucks, they might check the date, find it's old, and vow not to go back to that store. In those minority circumstances, the store could retain more customers with fresher beer, and might keep sales level.

    I don't ever think to check dates because probably 90% of what I buy are styles that keep well, plus I quite often am buying things that just came out.

    I wonder if old beer piles up on store shelves because of the quantities of a beer that the distributor pushes on the store. The store might only need a case or two of a slower moving beer, but the distributor might insist they need more. Also, I wonder if many/most stores don't push the distributor to take back old beer because the store owner/manager doesn't want to stress the relationship with a distributor that seems to do them favors such as giving them a larger allocation of a cult beer.

    Funny thing about the beertender commenting about BMC going bad. How often does that happen really? There is so much BMC demand that the stores and distributors should have stocking and keeping it fresh down to a science.
    PapaGoose03 likes this.
  30. MNAle

    MNAle Poo-Bah (2,412) Sep 6, 2011 Minnesota

    You're taking the term too literally. It just means a liquor store, or even more generally, a retail store that sells beer. And, most certainly do sell cans, bottles, macro, and craft.
    Beer_Economicus likes this.
  31. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (2,514) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
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    But again - how is that my, or other informed buyers' problem, though? That should be - and, since date codes are more prevalent and prominent, is - the concern of the brewers, and the retailers.

    If some people choose to not read freshness dates until AFTER they buy it, that's their mistake. (I don't know, I read the labels on everything I buy - that's how I know what I'm buying.)

    There's no doubt that the various conflicts between the tiers often contribute to the problem, but, again, any true "solution" is gonna cost money...
  32. drtth

    drtth Initiate (0) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    I've done this more than once. Usually I also make a point of telling the brewery I'm contacting which of their competitor's dated and fresh beers I bought instead.
    Lahey likes this.
  33. MistaRyte

    MistaRyte Defender (685) Jan 14, 2008 Virginia

    We're even more pretentious here in Norfolk... I prefer to call them "fermented malt emporiums"
    Beer_Economicus, bret717 and MilkLeg like this.
  34. nc41

    nc41 Poo-Bah (2,771) Sep 25, 2008 North Carolina
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    Beer and wine are seperate from the state run ABC stores, there's a few eastern states that are not privately owned.
  35. drtth

    drtth Initiate (0) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    If you talk with those of us who've lived in PA for more than a couple of years you'd feel like you had it pretty good.

    When I first moved here liquor and wine were sold only in State owned and operated stores. Beer was sold by a different set of retailers and by the case only, unless you were willing to buy a bottle from a bar (guess what those prices were like).

    While the laws have changed a bit the last few years, it's still the situation that most places that someone might refer to as being a bottle shop are actually places that must also serve food and beer for eat in (with at least 30 seats) or for take out.

    What is amazing to me is that there are places where someone is able to walk into a single store and be able to walk out with a bottle of a single malt Scotch, a bottle of a nice Australian wine, and a six pack of a favorite beer.
    #115 drtth, Jun 14, 2018
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2018
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  36. MilkLeg

    MilkLeg Initiate (141) Feb 8, 2016 Canada (AB)

    Oh I know I’ve got it good having access to craft beer at almost any store I go. Not saying I need to live in some fantasy world where cheap liquor doesn’t exist. I guess I just didn’t understand the origin of the term bottle shop and how it was different than a regular store, since folks here seem to use them interchangeably. To me what you’ve described sounds like a bar that allows take out with alcohol, which sounds terrible assuming that you are paying bar prices for a single.
  37. ilikebeer03

    ilikebeer03 Poo-Bah (1,848) Oct 17, 2012 Texas
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    Bottle shop, to me, equals a place where they only/primary business is selling beer. i.e. I wouldn't call the grocery store a bottle shop. Or a liquor store who certainly moves a higher volume of liquor than craft beer.
    MilkLeg likes this.
  38. Adrena1ine

    Adrena1ine Aspirant (225) Nov 22, 2014 Pennsylvania

    Year old IPAs sitting on the shelf at room temp...
  39. jonphisher

    jonphisher Meyvn (1,387) Aug 9, 2015 New Jersey
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    Dudes who stand in front of the cooler and sit on their phones checking untapp'd for ratings. Untapp'd is the devil, drink a beer with no preconceived notions and enjoy it for what it is.
    Immortale25 and GuyFawkes like this.
  40. deleted_user_971432

    deleted_user_971432 Initiate (0) Apr 8, 2015

    totally agreeed
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