In a Perfect Beer World – Distributors/Six-Pack & Bottle Shops

18 March 2010

Smiley Welcome to Part two of our series, In a Perfect Beer World what do we want. For those just catching up, please feel free to check out the original thread that lead up to these results. Today’s results pertain to our local craft beer distributors, six-pack and bottle shops. With such common themes among these beer businesses, I decided to group their results together.

Despite the antiquated PA beer laws that so many people complain about, my readers seem genuinely happy with our local craft beer distribution options. There were some very common comments and themes, but very few were negative and very few were isolated to just one person…

While a few beer lovers expressed confidence in buying cases of beer, many readers suggested implementing some way to try-before-you buy. The common comment was that “before I drop $50 or $60 on a case of beer I want to know I love it first.” Readers suggested having more tasting events or even featuring a sampling bar with kegs and bottles available to try a beer before buying a beer. While I do consider this one of the more unrealistic suggestions I received, I do get the idea and I do think the need is something our local distributors, six-pack and bottle shops should make note of. With case and bottle prices rising higher and higher, we do need to find some way to ensure people are buying a beer they love, and therefore return to buy again and again. I realize there may be no easy solution here, but I’d also say this is one need we should not ignore.

On a negative note, there was considerable concern expressed by our readers for beer freshness. Reader comments included getting good beers out of the reach of the sun coming through big windows, and more importantly watching freshness dating. The most popular comment in this theme was, “sell fresh beer and when it is starting to get less than fresh, discount it and move it out the door.” It was very common to hear stories of readers finding one old case of beer and never returning to buy from that distributor again, so this is obviously a serious concern. While many beers DO age well, I do think this is a concern for everyone involved. I’d hate to think of a beer lover missing out on a great beer because of freshness and I’d hate to see a distributor lose business because of one bad case.

The most common requests for craft beer distributors, six-pack and bottle shops were three simple requests. First, offer bottles/cases/six-packs that are cold OR not-cold. Depending on their plans for the beer, our readers didn’t always want cold beer. The next most common theme can be summed up in one word, “Organization.” While there was no strong preference to grouping beers by style, seasonal-theme, or alphabetic by brewery, almost ALL readers said they struggle to find the beer they want. While this was somewhat of a distributor problem, organization was identified as a big problem at six-pack and bottle shops also. One reader even said, “bottles and bottles everywhere with no rhyme or reason to how they are organized. There’s Stone over here and Stone over there and barley wines everywhere.” This is an issue that I think will be worth some further discussion and some action at our local shops. After all, if we can’t find the beers we can’t buy the beers. Perhaps different ways of organizing are in order or perhaps simply posting/publishing HOW things are already organized would be helpful too.

The final and most common request for our beer shops was all about pricing. Readers simply wanted to know how much a case, six-pack or bottle costs without having to ask someone and without having to carry it up to the counter first. Readers want prices posted…it’s that simple.

I was very happy to see again that the responses in this category were predominantly positive, and the suggestions realistic with viable solutions that should be fairly easy to implement. I think this sort of open communication between beer-buyers and beer-sellers will put more beers into our refrigerators and more sales into the beer-business cash registers. Cheers and thank you to our readers for posting and our local beer businesses for listening. Stay tuned for Part 3…coming soon.

2 comments (click to read or post):

Anonymous,  23 March, 2010 08:40  

This post reminds me of the best bottle shop I ever visited. It was called John Henry's in State College. They had coolers of single bottles with color coded stickers on top. There was a key on the wall telling you how much each bottle was based on the sticker. It was by far the best way to test and try out new brews. It's a shame nobody else does the same thing.

mybeerbuzz 23 March, 2010 08:47  

Color coded stickers is a good idea and allows them to easily update pricing without having to re-stick every bottle. Some of our locals do indicate pricing on every bottle and it is very helpful. Good idea.

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