Thursday, December 3, 2009

Wake Up and Smell the Beer

I have a new pet peeve. This week I've called several liquor stores to see if they had their BBQ or Tank 7 order in. A pattern emerged amongst all of the liquor stores I called, they had no idea what I was talking about with the exception of Tipsy's who knew they had the BBQ on Monday afternoon. None of the stores knew anything about Tank 7, one guy even asked me if it was the same thing as the BBQ.

This is a problem. I wasn't calling about obscure products from an obscure company. Boulevard is the hometown brewer, I think, at the very least, liquor store employees should be able to speak intelligently about Boulevard products' availability. Instead, every beer geek in town is introduced to a liquor store's apathy towards having educated employees. How hard is it to make sure your employees know what Boulevard products are in the pipeline? I really understand if they don't know anything about the newest Bear Republic or Goose Island products, but to not know the Boulevard lineup is kinda inexcusable. At the very least they should know when their Boulevard delivery is coming.

Liquor stores be warned, I'm going to start calling stores out by name when I'm not satisfied with the employee's knowledge of products. I'll spread around my phone calls, but Gomer's of Lenexa and Tipsy's in Mission should be prepared because I almost always call them because I'm most likely to buy from those 2 stores (both stores are usually pretty good on the phone).

18 comments:

  1. Why don't you just ask to talk to the manager/owner who would know? You sound like a crusty old bastard.

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  2. Try Charlie @ Metcalf Discount Liquor in OP, he knows his beer and has it organized very well. It is surprising how well the beer is displayed considering the space limitation.

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  3. I run into this all the time North of the river. The Berbiglia in Liberty is hopeless. Their staff tends to be clueless and HyVee has as good or better selection.

    Gomers in Parkville is mixed bag. They at least know what you're talking about, but their stock lags well behind the other stores. I've given up on going there on or even near a release days because it will take them at least another week or two to get it in stock.

    The Gladstone HyVee is pretty good. Their Wine/Spirits manager gets it, but they gave me the run around on BBQ earlier this week. They sent an email to their beer club saying it was in stock and to come get some, but whn I drove in from Liberty, they told be that Boulevard told them it was illelgal to sell it before Friday (WTF? Hello, Gomers South??).

    When is Luks going to open a store in North KC? They're leaving a lot of money on the table for mediocre providers.

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  4. Given only about 5% of beer drinkers even drink something other than BMC, and a much smaller % of that drink niche beers from craft breweries (even local ones), I'm on the fence about this. While it'd be nice that they knew about seasonal arrivals, I don't expect the average liquor store employee to know about Boulevard's specialty line arrivals simply because it's not a significant portion of their total sales.

    Now, if you called & asked for the beer buyer and they didn't know, I'd agree with you. But, when you call, the person who answers is probably someone who earns close to minimum wage stocking shelves and running the cash register.

    I've had pretty good luck getting info when I talk to the beer buyers at Gomer's & Lukas, but I *always* get good information when I talk to the guys at Royal (on State Line).

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  5. Wort Hog, I would agree with you if I was asking for them to know about all their specialty beers, I'm just asking them to know about the local beer company.

    There simply is not that much to know at a liquor store, new products is the only thing that really changes. Employees should know of high profile beer and wine releases at the very least if they're going to answer the phone. The only phone calls they get are keg/price and new product inquiries. Before they pick up the phone they should know what Boulevard products are release/going to be released. I don't think I'm asking too much.

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  6. Ask for Nate at the Kansas Gomer's, he'll know what he's talking about.

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  7. Bubbles in Gladstone is pretty knowedgable, however they do seem to get shipments later than others. That's ok, I know I'll get something eventually.

    The Beer Buyer at Red X seems to know her stuff, if you can catch her.

    Parkville Gomer's does not seem up to speed

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  8. +1 for Nate at Gomer's Lenexa. He always knows what is going on. Others there however can be hit or miss. I was in last night to get BBQ (they limit 4 bottles per person btw) and asked when they would get Tank 7 in. He said he was just the night guy and didn't know. Honest answer, ok, I can handle that.

    The family that owns Bubbles is super nice and is usually pretty in the know about their beer selection, their selection is pretty good too.

    The smaller stores can be really bad, there's one I stop at close to my house and it's usually the same guy, whenever I ask about any of the special release Smokestacks he never has any idea. They only get a case or two though, so it's not like they do a ton of volume.

    Personally I think Blvd could bypass this whole issue if they had a little better communication coming out directly from them. They've been doing a bit better on FaceBook, but their blog hasn't been updated in months, and not everyone is on FaceBook. There is a decent and growing beer geek community that most of these releases cater too, so they could do a bit better in this area. We're interested in what they are doing because what they are doing is really good. Let us know how the aging process is going for the Imperial Stout and Rye on Rye. Let us know how the Imperial Pilsner is going. Let us know when we can expect to see stuff like that on the shelves. Let us know when the Luncheon series starts back up without having to watch your website all the time. Stuff like that will only help them in the long run.

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  9. Berbiglia at 31st and Gillham knew last night that they had gotten the BBQ, but were unfamiliar with the fact that Tank 7 was due out soon - -and this wasn't even their top guy working last night, just someone who likes his beer (I think his other job is at 75th Street brewery, so he works his passion).

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  10. Per some other comments, Bubbles has the best service I've experienced in KC liquor stores. The owner generally knows when everything is coming in, and if he doesn't, he will make multiple calls to find out. Bubbles also generally gets their Boulevard in on Wednesday, in case you are looking for Tank 7 in the Northland next week.

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  11. I tend to agree that a little knowledge on the HOMETOWN brewery shouldn't be too much to ask, especially concerning this whole Smokestack thing. It's kind of a big deal. We're not talking about some obscure brewery with a 3 county distribution range. Never even heard of Tank 7? Shaaaaaaaame on you, sir.

    The couple that runs Bubbles on N. Oak seem fairly knowledgeable and are always friendly and willing to help you dig around for something if you can't find it.

    Also, seconded about the lady at Red X. She's busy as hell every time I go in but always makes small talk about whatever I'm looking at and is a damn sight more knowledgeable than the suits I've encountered at any Gomer's location.

    And Berbiglia? Please.

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  12. Blvd. doesn't even have stats up on their site about Smokestack beers. This is criminal. Economy sucks, so what's the IT dept. doing? Washing bottles? C'mon. Any reputable brewer that wants to remain relevant w/ their beer needs to have up to date #'s on their beers on the website. As for talking to liquor store chimps(no offense, I'm sure some of you are worth the air you breath) phhh, I get in and get out. If I want to talk beer I'll hit the internet.

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  13. I would say that educating the Liquor Store on new releases is the job of the distributor. For the record, I think that Aaron at Gomers in Lees Summit is one of the most beer knowledgeable people in the KC area. He is also way ahead of most stores on whats new. His variety is stellar considering its not the size of Lukas, which is a good store too.

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  14. Rimann in PV has BBQ in stock. They got them in on Tuesday. They didn't know when Tank 7 was coming, but they thought it would be soon. Rimann typically gets first deliveries from the distributor around KC, so check the Rimann in Lenexa if you're a bit wester of me. And yes, I know wester isn't a word, but it means 'more west'...

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  15. I am glad you brought this up. This is definitely something that annoys me."My store" is terrible about this. It's only "my store" because it is the closest one to where I live, and yes I suppose it is my own fault for living in southwest Olathe. However, they have little or no clue about upcoming releases or beers that have already been released. And worse yet, they usually try and make me out to be the one who has no clue. If they don't have it, it must not be available or must not exist. That is why I usually end up driving to Lukas in OP or Gomers on 87th.

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  16. Tipsy's ran out of BBQ last night, but Batson's in Mission just got a case in today and has at least a few left. Batson's also has a couple of Harvest Dance bottles left, if that's your thing.

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  17. "My store" is Gomer's in Lee's Summit. They have one of the best selections I've seen around town; Aaron is super-knowledgeable. I was there Thursday night for the weekly beer tasting, and was surprised not to see any BBQ or Tank 7 (they have Harvest Dance). Is it mostly KS stores that have those?

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  18. Call Gomer's south, we all know the whole boulevard line-up smokestack series, seasonals and year-round beers. We still have BBQ in stock and Irish Ale is arriving today or tomorrow.

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