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.

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