Friday, December 10, 2010

Lagunitas Needs Us

Have you ever been walking around in a crowded place and have an incredible ball itch? You don't want to reach down and grab yourself and give yourself the scratch you so richly deserve, but you simply must scratch yourself. You give yourself one shot, as you turn a corner or turn from a group of people, you make it look as natural as you can, you disguise it as best as you can and you scratch that itch. And it feels divine as it sends a shiver down your spine. To me, Lagunitas is that ball scratch. The exact opposite of this feeling is watching the Judds episode of Oprah.

I've written about Lagunitas brews several times in very glowing terms. Once Schlafly No. 15 is retired I will count Lagunitas Little Sumpin' Sumpin' as my favorite beer. I always have Lagunitas New Dogtown Pale Ale on hand because it's a top 5 beer for me. Lagunitas IPA is widely regarded as one of the best IPA's in the world. Hop Stoopid is stoopid cheap and a comparable beer to Bell's Hopslam which is 5 times as expensive. Brown Shugga' is one of my highlights of the fall so far. Little Sumpin' Wild seems like a disappointment when compared to other Lagunitas beers, but I've bought 5 22 oz. bottles of it this month. What I'm trying to say is Lagunitas is my favorite brewery at the moment and I don't see that changing anytime soon.

Because of the "Brew Masters" show liquor stores around town are being inundated with calls about Dogfish Head. I love Dogfish Head just as much as anybody, but they're not coming to Missouri or Kansas anytime soon. It's not a distributor issue or a retailer issue, Dogfish Head just doesn't produce enough beer to supply Missouri in addition to the rest of their distribution area. Lagunitas is already here and is happy to supply the drinkers of the KC metro. But, we're not doing our job because we don't get all the beers Lagunitas will supply us with. We can't go to the liquor store and buy Maximus, a double IPA, or Lagunitas Imperial Stout. To me this is a shame and I couldn't figure out why. I decided to do a little bit of detective work to figure this out.

The problem is Lagunitas just doesn't have the name recognition from retailers in the area and retailers are not willing to give up 2 or 3 more facings for Lagunitas if they have any at all. Over the summer only 22 liquor stores in Kansas (there's around 40 in KS) carried Little Sumpin' Sumpin' and of those 22, 7 of them carried less than 3 cases. Even fewer stores are carrying Brown Shugga'. What we need to do is let these stores know that they should be carrying more Lagunitas.

Fairway Liquor, which is in the little strip mall by Oklahoma Joe's on 47th Street, was on my list of stores that got more than 5 cases of Little Sumpin' Sumpin'. I made a phone call to them in the hope that they still had some Little Sumpin' Sumpin'. What I found on that phone call was the friendliest and most helpful liquor store employee I've ever found. He not only told me they didn't have Little Sumpin' Sumpin' but looked up when they sold their last one. This friendliness warranted an in-person visit from me. I found a run of the mill neighborhood liquor store with empty slots in the cooler and no Brown Shugga' (though they did have some bottles of Boulevard Bourbon Barrel Quad and a great Smokestack display). I picked up a sixer of Lagunitas IPA and mentioned I was looking for Brown Shugga'. The clerks couldn't have been more friendly and I'm going to give them the crown of friendliest liquor store in town. They just need a little help deciding what they need to stock regularly. This process of going into a store, buying a Lagunitas product and inquiring about a Lagunitas product they don't have needs to happen 100x over. I don't have the time to visit all these stores, but it needs to happen.

The following stores in town received 1 case of Little Sumpin' Sumpin' and I'm willing to bet that they don't carry Brown Shugga'.
Beer Cave (10037 W. 87th)
K-7 Liquor (22088 W. 66th)
Metcalf Liquor (7527 Metcalf)
Mission Wine & Spirits (5801 Johnson Dr.)
Valley Wine & Spirits (10103 Cherry Lane)

A couple of visits by you to these stores or other small stores in Kansas can and will increase the amount of Lagunitas the distributor can sell. Only 2700 cases of Lagunitas have been sold in Kansas this year (8200 have been sold in MO) which is pretty shameful. The distributor can't carry Maximus, Imperial Stout and Pils unless they're sure they can sell through. Smaller liquor stores only have so many facings and can't carry everything. Considering they pretty much must carry all the Boulevard and Free State regulars, at least 12 facings are taken. If a store is going to carry Lagunitas they have to know that it's a big seller. Running a small liquor store is a pretty hard deal because the beer salesmen don't give them the kind of help they need and since Lagunitas is pretty new to the area, the smaller retailers just don't know about it. The best way they can find out what they need to carry is to have their customers tell them (if you don't care about Lagunitas ask for what you care about).

There really is no reason we don't get all that Lagunitas has to offer. But, it's going to take a little work by us to get it sold. I can't think of a more deserving brewery. 

One last thing, most every bottle of Lagunitas has a phone number on it and says to go ahead and call. I did and had a great 20 minute conversation with the guy who answered. I encourage you to do the same with a recently purchased bottle of Lagunitas.


  1. Lagunitas is one of my favorite breweries. They have arguably the best beer for the money

  2. Lagunitas is sold in Kansas?? Every time I ask for it near Manhattan nobody has it listed in their distribution books. If this is true I will be hitting the liquor stores demanding it. Is this only a KC thing? I love Lagunitas but I haven't had any since I left Georgia. Count me in for getting the word out (I'll even repost this on my blog with your permission).

  3. You remind me of an old widow, except you've replaced televangelists with the beer industry.

  4. So far I've only tried 2 of lagunitas brews but I must say brown shugga is def a top for me! Absolutely love it. For several weeks gomers midtown was the only place I could find it, but just last week I noticed it on the shelf of my local northland hyvee which I must say sadly has a better selection than any liquor store in the northland.

  5. Brewmiscuous, feel free to republish at will. Unfortunately Central States, the distributor, doesn't distribute in Manhattan. You need to pressure a distributor in Manhattan, but the same plan should work.

  6. Little wild sumpin sumpin was on tap at foundry a few nights ago

    The Beelord

  7. my wife and I just made two trips to the Lagunitas Taproom, and we possess indisputable photographic evidence that a metric shitton of sumpin sumpin is waiting on pallets to be trucked about the country. They are good, good people (as most beer folks tend to be) and we loved our time there. Totally worth a visit.

    We are also considering a petition or phone campaign to have them bottle an insanely good experimental winter beer we tried called Shugga & Spice. 75% Brown Shugga, 25% barrel aged imp stout, with cranberries, cinnamon bark, and Ginger. My wife has declared it her favorite beer ever.

  8. I do love myself some Lagunitas. I had my first New Dogtown Pale on a trip to Cannon Beach Oregon in 2006. Bought a 12 pack and brought 6 back to KS in my carryon before the TSA started cracking down on such things. Here in TX we have most of their beers. I cleaned my favorite store out of their last case of Little Sumpin Sumpin. I like Lagunitas a lot better than Dogfish Head. While their Punk and IPAs are good, I have yet to take a real liking to their other beers.

  9. Really great post. Most of us would just complain about the missing beers and stop there - your explanation of how to help fix the problem raises the bar a notch.

    Brown Shugga is one of my faves. I looked into making a batch of a clone, and realized that they put in an amazing amount of hops, malt and sugar. Great stuff.

  10. If you are willing to do this for Lagunitas, then can we also try and get Ballast Point Sculpin here as well. We get some of their beers, but Sculpin is wonderful and we don't get it.

  11. Anonymous, funny that you mention Ballast Point. The last thing I took out of this post before publishing was something to the effect of "Ballast Point, Saranac and Dundee are clearly inferior beers but are finding their way onto store shelves. Stores should be using this space for Lagunitas." But I took it out because I didn't want to call out any craft beers as being undeserving especially since I've never had anything from Ballast Point.

  12. I'm travelling to San Fran in early January for a brewery trip, looks like this one just made it into the line-up, thanks to your post!

  13. Amanda - you'll be happy you did! They had about 16 beers on tap, including a bunch of experimental stuff. The tour was fun as well, as we learned the stories behind [CENSORED] ale and Undercover Investigation Shutdown Ale.

    (Spoiler alert: they both involve weed.)

    Once you're up there, you might as well do Russian River and Bear Republic while you're at it.

  14. RE: Ballast Point - Fair enough, really the only one I want is Sculpin. The rest of their line-up that is found here isn't anything to exciting anyways. So if buying more of the current Ballast Point is the only way we'll get Sculpin, it probably won't happen. Basically I'd be happy to substitute 4 ballast point spaces for Sculpin and 3 Lagunitas. But I would gladly go without all Saranac and Dundee.

  15. Yeah, how the hell exactly do we have Saranac mucking up shelves? You have a Caramel Porter--probably my favorite dessert flavor combined with probably my favorite beer style--and I don't even want to finish a bottle? Suck.

  16. If you're willing to take a trip to Gomer's in Lee's Summit you'll find several Lagunitas flavors. Lucky 13 is my favorite.