Thursday, June 16, 2011

Parabola Day

30 cases of the highly touted Firestone Walker Parabola are travelling around KC today to find their way behind the counters of KC's best liquor stores (Missouri side only so you won't have to deal with sneers from the Gomer's Lenexa crew). It's not enough to go around, but it's what we got. Parabola is probably the highest rated (if you follow such things) Russian Imperial Stout released in KC. I'm interested in seeing what all the hubbub is about, if Parabola is anywhere near as good as Abacus or 14 (which will be available at Hop Fest) then it will be worth the $15 or so that it will cost you. Whether it's worth the trouble of trying to secure a bottle this afternoon is up to you, but if you get one I don't think you'll be disappointed.

As always, leave a comment here where you found it, price and limits or use Twitter or OnTapKC or the KC Beer Blog Facebook page, something. Help out your fellow beer travelers, you'll already have a bottle, why not help others get one?


  1. So here's an idea for all the liquor stores out there. It would be really nice if you could create a "limited release beer club" so that those of us who would like to get these beers but can't get out of work with enough time to drive all the way across the city to pick up one of these special releases before they are all gone can have one or two bottles reserved. With the seemingly endless growth these special release continue to have, it would be nice if they could be reserved and not have to call 5 different liquor stores and try to get on a list that the guy answering the phone may or may not know anything about and you may or may not get a call about when it comes in.

    Charge people $25 a year (or something like that) and you can guarantee them a bottle or two of limited releases for 48 hours (or some small time period). Once that period of time has expired, the bottle goes on the shelf and will undoubtely sell, it's not like these beers are having a hard time selling. I would gladly pay a small fee to have access to these kind of beers with a little more convenience added with the reservation, and I gotta believe that there would be others who would be willing to do the same thing.

    I love this blog, but I get tired of the mad dash to try and find and purchase beers or get on a list once they are released. Isn't there a better way to get notified that some of these special releases are available and get one reserved other than watching a blog?

    I'm going to send emails to some of the better stores in the area to see if something like this could be arranged, but if you work at one of these stores and are a reader of this blog, what say you?

  2. I'd sign up for that.

  3. I would sign up for this service no doubt. The only real issue is having a number of members that exceeds the number of bottles on some beers. The yearly fee would have to be higher and/or they would need to implement policies that you spend x amount of dollars at the store in a given year or something to that extent.

    I think some of the Gomer's stores are already trying to go this route, since I had to sign up for a card the one time I went to Gomer's North.

  4. Chimpo beat me to it--sometimes places get one or two cases of this stuff, and if people are paying a fee to reserve it they'll be pissed if they're not one of the chosen 12.

    I really like the idea, because there's stuff I'd like to try without having Black Friday every two weeks, but questions of implementation and fairness are above my (nonexistent) beer pay grade.

  5. @JB

    It might not be exactly what you're looking for, but Cellar & Loft has a club membership sort of program. You pay a monthly fee (can't remember how much, maybe $24?), and you get some beer provided for you. Like a couple 6-packs I think. I assume that being a member, if they get any rare beers, you would be the first on the list to get it if you requested. I'm not a member so I can't confirm, but it's a very interesting idea.

    I think I'll be skipping the Parabola. :-/ I blew a wad of cash on a couple bottles of Saison-Brett recently. I need to watch my spending.

  6. It's illegal to charge a fee for special access to beer, wine or liquor. Everyone should have the same access to limited edition beers. The "lists" or "special privilege customers" or whatever have to be free and open to anyone who wishes to be included. This may not happen everywhere, but it is the rule on both sides of the state line. Missouri may have a little more leeway than Kansas, but not enough for an exclusive club.

    Now, it's an unpopular idea but if a store consistently charged 30-50% more for limited releases than their competitors, it's conceivable that they would always have some left for people who really want the beer.

    Or a store could routinely hold special releases for Saturday morning at 10 or something and sell it to give everyone a fair shot. If a store was willing to do that I would certainly include that info with any post I write about these special releases.

    There's plenty of room for creative solutions to this issue, which is only getting worse. We just need a couple of stores to do things a little differently from everyone else.

  7. If stores did a release on Saturdays at 10, then there would be unhappy people saying they have to work Saturdays. Sure more people could go on a Saturday than they could during the week, but I can't see a store wanting to do that. Having a set time would cause people to line up outside the store hours before it opened and I doubt if stores want to create a beer release party atmosphere outside their store on a Saturday morning.

    Moral of the story...there are always going to be unhappy people when it comes to limited releases no matter what breweries or liquor stores do.

  8. So, anybody actually picked it up yet? Was wanting to gab it on my lunch break, so I'm curious if Gomer's South or Royal have it available yet.

  9. Ya, just picked it up at Gomer's on Holmes. It was not on the shelves yet so you might need to ask for it. They also had about 10 bottles of Saison-Brett left.

  10. I think the solution to this recurring problem is based on some form of either social media or direct email coming from the retailer. If the retailer wants your business on these hot items, they need to get your email or have an active Facebook page. It's probably a lot easier to go the Facebook route, but that makes the assumption that people check their FB each and every day. To me, this is similar to watching the View or listening to chicks talk about Desperate Housewives via phone.

    Now that I think about it, the email campaign would be the way to go. Quick, simple and it doesn't involve "Liking" or funny things my kid said updates.

  11. Royal, Gomers and Rimann all do some form of this to varying degrees of success. It doesn't solve the problem of too few bottles for too many people.

  12. Good discussion, and I agree that there are many things that can make this more difficult or that will still leave people unhappy. But we're in 2011, surely there is a better way to communicate these out so we can at least plan on them. I understand that many stores don't know what they get until the distributor tells them, who doesn't know what they're getting until the brewer tells them, but maybe a little more communication is all we need as to when things are going to hit the shelves.

    I follow numerous brewers, Royal liquors, Central States Distributing, KC beer blog, On Tap KC and a number of the good bars in the area on FaceBook, Twitter and RSS feeds and email lists, so between all those resources you can get a fairly good idea when things come out, but it would often be nice to have more notice than the morning something hits the shelves to plan around time to go pick it up.

    Now granted, this is a FANTASTIC problem we have here. Between the two states we have a fantastic selection of brewers, many of who are releasing some top shelf beers for us all to enjoy, so I don't want to make it sound like I'm unhappy. It would just be nice to go to one place (maybe OnTapKC) to find dates and arrival times for these kinds of special releases.

    Maybe a partnership between OnTapKC and some of the local stores where they can tell us specific dates around what's coming up and when it will be here?

  13. @Flip

    What's the selection like at Cellar & Loft? Do they get these kind of limited releases? I work not too far from there, it's on my way home actually, so that would be fairly convenient. I'll have to stop in some time but was curious what their selection was like.

  14. Basically, we need the distributor to notify the public that the beers is coming out. The public then needs to know enough about their local liquor store to know if they get deliveries on a certain day. It's when someone gets on Twitter at 10am and says "X places has this and it's going fast' that the whole process turns into a clusterfuck.

    Between comments on other posts here and talking to store employees, it is a fact that the stores have contempt for jagoffs that only come in to stockpile rare releases.

  15. JB, as someone who's been trying to track these releases down for a couple of years, it's just tough to know more than a couple of days ahead of time when the beer is coming out. I have a couple of advantages and I still don't know when the Stone RIS is going to be here, I don't think the distributor knows.

    Boulevard is real good about communicating when a beer is going to come out in KC. But, that's about the only brewery that can do that for KC.

    Your idea is a good one and something I'm working toward, but it's very difficult to find out this information. Sometimes I miss one as well, Gnomegang comes to mind.

    As for posting these on the morning of the release..I like doing it because it brings in a more participatory vibe of people sharing where they got theirs. Plus, I'm not a planner so it doesn't work in my mind that people would work out a plan in advance.

  16. I've been following you as well for quite a while now too, so I really do appreciate (as I'm sure everyone who follows does as well) when you post this info, please do not stop as it's often the first we hear of these releases. I think the special release madness for me started on a Hopslam day a couple years ago. I was just hoping there might be a better way to do this, and wanted to throw it out there for discussion, maybe a good topic for the next "Gents" meeting.

    Like I said, this is a good problem we have here.

  17. Bull...the Stone IRS issue is with the state of Missouri. It has to pass through their hands to get authorized before an order can even be placed at the brewery. That is why it is hard for me or other distributors to tell exactly when a product will hit our dock weeks in advance.
    I appreciate you guys and the info you get to the better beer drinkers of KC. I will continue to try and get you the info you need. Please don't hesitate to contact me with any questions you have.

  18. Everyone south of the river is out...

  19. Parabola is on tap at NHC pro brewers night. Matt is not a nanobrewer, but that is okay, he is still a great friend of mine.

  20. First and foremost... what a great discussion. All of that being said, I would agree with both JB and Donnie.

    When looking at JB's point of view, there is a wealth of information that is out there to be had that can an will assist in searching out the limited releases.

    For distributors, managing limited release products can be very challenging but all distributors can play a bigger and better role of providing meaningful information on where to find products if you reach out to them or if they do a better job communicating the information to the consumer. You have to understand that we are a regulated industry and sharing the information often times can be a challenge to ensure that you stay in compliance with legal regulations.

    At one time, we got called out on our "lack of attention" as it was percieved by the beer community on the Lagunitas brands. We took this to heart because we were really trying to do a good job but good was not good enough and we had to get better with our communication.

    Having the ability to distribute beer is a PRIVLAGE not a RIGHT.... That being said, the pressure for more information often falls on deaf ears unless you address the distributor directly.

    Kansas City has a great problem, we have the privlage of special releases by many brands and brewers! No complaints here!

    Keeping that in mind, LIMITED RELEASE beers are just that - LIMITED. There will never be enough for everyone, consumers and retailers alike and you will not be able to get them anywhere on the drop of a dime.

    Because the beers are limited, you have to do a lot of work to find a Chocolate Ale vs. Tank 7!

    At the end of the day, the end user and/or consumer is supporting the beers in the KC market and the beer distributors including CSBEV owe it to both you and our retailer partners to inform and arm you with information to make your hunt enjoyable without makeing it impossiable. Because the products are limited, not all retailers get what they want but we do the best to make it so you do not have to drive all over to pick up what is out there!

    Donnie brings up a great point as well, distributors do not always get what they need from the brewers be it QTY or information, incase you guys have not noticed craft beers are on fire and the state sytems which regulate beer are a bit overwhelmed as they are now doing the jobs of 10ppl with 2 due to state budgets.

    We do have a great problem in KC.... Let's ensure that we support the brands, demand more information from the distributors and build a community that acts as one!

    Enjoying the blog, thank you for the support of our brands and sharing our information as well as information about beers we do not sell but enjoy consuming....

    We as well will continue to improve our communication with the community to help ease the process in your hunt!

    Director of Marketing
    Central States Beverage

  21. Finding this blog and ontapkc has been invaluable for me to get more into the craft beer scene. I don't only use it for finding limited releases, but I try to share info on where I have found certain beers and my thoughts on craft beer.

    I'm lucky enough to have a job where I set my own schedule, so it isn't a big deal to run out at 10:30am on a Tuesday to grab a limited release, but I've made it a rule to take less than the bottle limit so others can have a shot at them. Once I find a bottle or a 4-pk, I head home instead of hitting 2 or 3 more shops.

    Keep doing what you're doing, the community support of craft beer "insiders" like the Gents, distributers and brewers can only mean more great beer for KC!

  22. I had one last night at the Riot Room - it was intense.

  23. Thanks for the responses Jon and Donnie, it's interesting to hear things from the other side of the chain of delivery.

  24. Gomers North just got theirs in, two cases, no limit. They also have a couple bottles of Abacus left as well, was surprised to see this still lingering around.

  25. I really enjoy some of the discussion going on here. Some better communication from the distributor would be nice but getting it into the consumers hands is up to the stores. When it comes to limited bottles I appreciate the stores that take the time to reserve bottles for their better customers.

    I have been a loyal customer to my local liquor store for almost a decade. They take good care of me there. I don’t feel entitled to beer but it would rub me wrong if people that don’t normally shop at my local liquor store bought up all the limited bottles.

    Stores that don't cater to their better customers or don't do bottle limits just promote the douchbags that run around town buying up all they can on release days. Building a relationship with your local store is a good thing to do. Supporting them will help them and also hopefully also help you when it comes to the limited bottles like parabola.


  26. First come, first serve when selling beer. 1 bottle limit on super limited stuff and 2 bottle of less limited stuff (gotta spread the love around). The most fair and balanced of the choices.