Wednesday, November 26, 2008

It's Berbiglia not Beerbiglia

Because Chimpotle bought Gomer's in midtown out of Frambozen, I was in a pickle. I wanted to see if they had a Southern Tier Creme Brulee Stout or a Raspberry Porter for my holiday drinking pleasure. But I also wanted to pick up some Frambozen (which is only available in Missouri). I don't have many good Missouri liquor stores on my way home from work (or slightly out of the way) and I'm pretty fond of Gomer's. So I pulled an audible and decided to give the Berbiglia in Martini Corner a shot.

The only other time I was in a Berbiglia I was quite disappointed in their beer selection and that was before Wes even started this silly blog. Today was no different, their beer selection just isn't up to snuff. Not only did they not have any Southern Tier beers but they didn't have any Frambozen either. What they did have was a nice selection of everyday beers that are sold year round. I only noticed a couple of winter seasonals, one being the Sierra Nevada Celebration, but it was 50 cents more expensive than it is at other liquor stores around town. I was in a conundrum because I feel silly walking into a liquor store and not buying anything, but I knew I was still going to have to go to Gomer's.

My saving grace was decent customer service. A member of the Berbiglia staff asked me if I was finding what I was looking for. I told him that I had just read on the KC Beer Blog about a brewery called Southern Tier and I was looking for one of their beers (I've never dropped the KC Beer Blog name somewhere and I had a real tough time suppressing my laughter, but I encourage you to say stuff like that.). And here is where Berbiglia lost me forever, the clerk said he had never heard of Southern Tier. But, being good at customer service does count for something, he asked other clerks in the store and they had never heard of it either. He even asked what they made and I told him they have about 12 different styles of beer. To his credit he seemed impressed and said “Well, that doesn't sound like something Miller or Bud would carry”. I felt like quoting the Cowboy*. Ironically, because of their good customer service, I felt comfortable walking out without buying anything.

*The Cowboy was this guy who came to Wes and I's business in Wichita one day. He was wearing a cowboy hat, hence the name, which is, despite what you may think, pretty rare in Wichita. He didn't really have any business with us, he just wandered in and asked if he could use the phone to call a cab and we obliged. Well the Cowboy took it upon himself to pull out a chair and sit down while he waited on his cab. The Cowboy turned out to be a really funny dude and I began to wonder if Wes knew him from somewhere because he just acted so familiar (if we were speaking French he would have started out using the familiar tu). Anyway, the Cowboy sitch turned out to be one of the oddest experiences of my life. At one point while he was sitting around, a customer walked in covered in paint, paint in her hair, on her clothes, on her face, just everywhere. As I was helping her with her transaction, she said “I've been painting today”, to which the Cowboy said, really loudly and really condescendingly “No s**t!” And that's what it means to quote the Cowboy. Incidentally, just to round out the Cowboy's story, a month or so later a cab driver walked into our business and said that he had picked up a cowboy from our location and wondered if we knew who he was. I think both of us thought that the cab driver was as impressed with the Cowboy as we were and wanted to know where he could find him again. But neither of us had seen him since that night, so we told the cab driver we didn't know who he was or how to find him. The cab driver told us that when he dropped him off at Incahoots (a Wichita country bar) the Cowboy took off running without paying his cab fare. This story only adds to the legend of the Cowboy.

I made my way over to Gomer's and confirmed that Chimpo had indeed purchased their entire stock of Frambozen. I was stuck (stuck is the wrong word because it's a fabulous beer) with buying some Sierra Nevada Celebration and a bomber of a He'Brew beer (review forthcoming) and a Samuel Smith's Winter beer. I want to believe that Berbiglia is a good liquor store, and it just may well be, but it's definitely not a great beer store and I don't think I'll go back.


  1. you do realize that Cowboy shoplifted something from your store,.

  2. At least the employees made the effort. The clowns that work at the Berbiglia at 75th and Stateline just ignore you.

  3. I'm curious which He'Brew you got. I've enjoyed their products thus far, and I have a 22oz of "Jewbelation 12" chilling as we speak. According to their label, they use 12 different hops and malts to produce a 12% ABV beer. Sounds like a true love/hate thing - I don't foresee any ambivalence on this one.

    Anyway, I've been very pleased with Anchor's Special (Holiday) Ale this year, and I'm sipping Bridgeport's Ebenezer Ale as I speak (type?). Very nice complex winter warmer; I would definitely recommend it if you come across some.

  4. I would agree that the employees there are nice, but clueless. Their overall selection is very poor at that location. I keep trying it to see if they will catch up, but they never do.

    Plenty of selections in the malt liquor category. Not a political statement, just saying...

  5. The Berbiglia at Bannister and Troost used to be great. They had everything and then some. If you wanted $1 a bottle clearance schnapps, evercleer, (it WAS my college years)or any beer I had ever heard of this was the place. The help was clueless but friendly. Then it thinned out, and now it's gone. Looking back with what I know today, their beer selection was pretty meager.

    I still work in that part of town, and have switched to Gomers (Classic) at 99th and Holmes. The isles are narrow for my fat ass, but if they don't have what I want they have at least heard of it, and might have an alternate suggestion.

  6. Only Berbiglia i have been into is the one in Liberty MO. I used to think it was pretty good. But, now I go to the Hy-vee on barryroad near Zona Rosa. Excellent beer selection I think.

  7. At least the employees made the effort. The clowns that work at the Berbiglia at 75th and Stateline just ignore you.