Thirsty Thursday

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Dave and Tony try an assortment of brews, Falco begins his dissertation on Brew-to-

Today’s journey takes us straight into the bowels of Tony’s ManCave, and Falco guides us through the mind-blowing process of beer manufacturing in Part One of Falco’s Educational Corner!

Weekday At Tony’s

It was a dark and stormy night … oh wait, actually, it was just this past Thursday. While the rest of you were re-reading that days’ Thirsty Thursday for the umpteenth time and penning fan letters to me (I’ll get to those responses at some point, I promise) I was busy preparing myself and my liver for a night at Tony’s — with neither of us having to work the next day …

If you Google “recipe for disaster,” it actually describes this exact scenario.

Having recently acquired some supposedly tasty brews from abroa — uh, from Canada, I had gotten the rare invite to drink some beer for free. Also, I kind of write about these things, so, you know, I could technically call it “work.”

This first little diddy was called “Revival” by Lost Craft. It was, in my opinion, the Canadian version of Miller Lite. In fact, as Tony would likely attest, I’m fairly certain I repeated that multiple times while trying to finish it so I could move on to the next batch. Tony seemed to think I was being a little excessive in my judgement here, but we all know I would never do that. I think it was average at best.

Kinda like Devin Bush…

I also told him a quick story I’ll relay here:

While on the East Coast there was a bar right outside of base called Lucky’s Tavern that had “Nickel Beer Night” on Thursdays — but only Miller Lite. My buddies Keith, Dave, and myself (yes, two Daves, who’d’ve thunk it) went out one night on a payday and Other Dave opened a tab for us, knowing it should’ve been about $20 or so. He was trying to be nice. Marines don’t do nice.

At the end of the night, Other Dave came up to us, completely pissed off. “Why the hell do I have a $250 bar tab on NICKEL BEER NIGHT?!”

Keith startled chuckling. “Well man, I kept on finding groups of women and asking if I could buy ’em a drink. Strangely, none of them wanted the nickel beer …”

Now this one was much better. “Lug-Tread” was slightly similar to Lost Craft in after-taste, but was a little thicker and had an actual taste to it that didn’t make me want to put two or three in a beer bong and chug to satisfaction.

I can honestly say, I think it was about this time we started having a debate that you’ll hear about later, and I can’t remember too much about this particular beer other than I do remember making the “hey thats pretty good” face after trying it. Then again, when you drink a 2-litre beer (I’m fairly certain litres is a Canadian thing) one can’t really be expected to remember the full nuance of it by the time you finish.

Perhaps you should ask Tony, I’m pretty sure he was making sexy eyes at his bottle as he rinsed it out and placed it on the shelf.

A Special “Thirsty Thanks” to Sydenham for providing these two Brews!!!

“Why just one picture, Dave?” you might ask. Well, two reasons: first, I was feeling pretty good by this time. Notice the shakiness of the photo? Secondly, Yeungling shouldn’t need it’s own picture — it should always just be shown being enjoyed.

And enjoy it I did. Yeungling is primarily an East Coast beverage, pretty hard to find here in the Midwest. If you ever run across it, don’t just buy yourself some, pick a case up for me too and I’ll pay you back!

Top shelf beer without the price tag. #DaveApproved.

Falco’s Educational Corner

Longtime online friend Falco discusses how your favorite beer actually gets to you:

I was asked to write a little about how beer gets into your thirsty little hands. Beer like any alcohol is heavily regulated. A lot of the regulations still stem from the end of Prohibition. 

The laws made in 1933 still effect sales today. This is written with general inside knowledge from working for a distributor, but as graphics guy, not a “beer guy.” So it will be fairly high level. Also it is from the perspective of beer. Wine and spirits are regulated differently, and also are distributed similarly, but all the rules and specifics are not one to one.

The most prominent of those laws is the Three-Tier System set up to regulate and control alcohol sales. The fear of corruption was still very real following 13 years of Prohibition and the rise of Capone.

So what this means is the Producer (Brewery) must sale to an independent Distributor (Wholesaler) who sales to a Retailer (Bar or Package store). The retailer is who you actually buy YOUR beer from. Now the term independent above is used loosely.

A distributor generally is either an Anheuser-Busch or a Miller/Coors distributor. It’s a game of follow the money. Although the distributor is independently owned (AB does own like three) they are beholding to the Brewery and it’s wishes. It is a partnership. The brewery only succeeds if the wholesaler succeeds, but we know who wears the pants. Even the local crafts have power over their distributor to an extent. Just lesser due to size and dollars.

This is where it gets interesting, and what I think Tony was wanting more of when he asked me to pontificate here. The craft breweries and where they fit. 

I can only assume that the goal of most craft breweries is to be bought out by a larger corporation. At least that would be my goal if I started one. Now not everyone can be Goose Island or Blue Moon and be bought by AB or Miller/Coors. Shoot, not everyone can be Sam Adams or Boulevard and get bought out by non local breweries not named AB or Miller/Coors.

So that leaves us with “true” local craft breweries. Some grow and could be considered regional. These small craft breweries still need a distributor if they are going to sell outside there little tap house, and they create enough barrels of beer. (I’m sure there are other specifications) What do they do? They have to sign an agreement with a licensed distributor (yes government regulation). 

Each distributor has a territory they are allowed to sell in. A company could six counties in SW Missouri. Also the same company could have a branch that has six counties in SE Missouri, and a branch that controls one county in KS. (Can’t cross state lines) So where the distributor can sell might help a brewery decide which distributor to go with. Each branch is treated as it’s own independent wholesaler, but the company uses its extended “territories” as leverage to woo potential craft brands.

The distributor makes a pitch about what they see for how to best distribute and market the brand. They must show they have the ability to gain market share. Now part of the Brewery-Wholesaler partnership means the wholesaler does a lot of sign making, and other things “free” to marker the beer.

For example a lot of small crafts rely on their distributor to come pick up the beer from the brewery not ship it themselves. I’m sure all that cost gets figured in things, but a distributor has to be willing to make pick ups for not just take deliveries from the breweries.

Once the brewery chooses a distributor they sign a contract. This agreement is permanent. Like it takes a lot of money and time to get out of it. So if Brewery A decides it wants a new wholesaler the new wholesaler and the brewery will have to pay the old distributor pretty much whatever they ask …

To Be Continued …

What do you think about the process of beer distribution so far? What are you drinking tonight? Let us know!

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legal_kush
legal_kush

Toppling Goliath. For the tourists.
Pulpit Rock. For the win.

gonzangkc11
gonzangkc11

come to Denver for the: Great American Beerfest takes place over three days in Denver, Colorado and features 800 breweries and 3800+ beers.

Gersidi76
Gersidi76

Out of all the great Canadian craft beers you chose the shittiest lol.. And Colt comes in big bottles too right? That should have tipped you off. Drinking a 2L beer with that beard, I would likely have went through my cup holders looking for spare change.. So yes, in Canada we have litres, but no self-respecting Canuck would be caught dead holding those!

P.S: When I come to KC I love Boulevard Wheat!

sydenham
sydenham

Each to his own, man, there’s a breadth of quality craft breweries north of the border and Beau’s is just one of them. Which is your go-to?

sydenham
sydenham

P.S. It’s easy to lob grenades without exposing yourself so in the absence of a constructive alternative you’ve earned a dose of this:

Anthony Stratton

You’re canadian? I never would have guessed.

Well, the beers were a gift, and I appreciate them. I wasn’t wild about the one but I really enjoyed the Lug Tread. If you have some better local offerings feel free to send some my way and we’ll enjoy doing a review on them.

HawaiiFiveOh
HawaiiFiveOh

For regional beers, Boulevard is tops. Nothing tastes better than a Boulevard wheat on a summer day. When I was in NC, I wasn’t really a fan of Yeungling. It tastes okay, but doesn’t wow me. Now Shiner Bock on the other hand, that’s surprisingly some good stuff.

sportingchiefs

I have limited access to Boulevard here in the UK. There’s a store in town that sells beers by country (so you’ve got a Germany shelf, US shelf, etc) and they do have Tank 7 and others like Double-wide IPA. But for whatever reason, they can’t get Wheat which is so disappointing. I, uh, may have accidentally found one or two in my post box before? but it looks like a kind neighbor just set them there for me 😉 Fun story though, we did take a trip to Bruges, Belgium where Duvel has a nice beer museum and I was able to sit on their balcony overlooking the city center square and drink The Calling IPA since Duvel distributes for Boulevard (or owns them in some capacity for distribution purposes). Only a couple weeks until I touchdown in KC for a few days and believe me, there will be many a Boulevard Wheat had (responsibly, of course).

Team Player
Team Player

Contact Stella Artois. They own Boulevard

Falco16
Falco16

Not true. They are owned by Duvel Moortgat USA Ltd.

Team Player
Team Player

Yeah. I was coming by to fix it. Sorry

Falco16
Falco16

No reason to be sorry really. I’m guessing a majority of people don’t realize they’re not still locally owned.

Anthony Stratton

It was a pretty big story in KC when they were bought out. Whether people actively remember the story is another thing…

HawaiiFiveOh
HawaiiFiveOh

I remember it. I’m sad too.

Anthony Stratton

I’m not. Its part of what allows them to develop new beers and make seasonal offerings.

Falco16
Falco16

Yeah. The “forget” and then as they extend to regional the non KC people think it’s “local”

Sudden
Sudden

I traveled to Ypres for the armistice centennial and had a tank 7 at a restaurant there.

Anthony Stratton

Its just the Black and Tan I like. Its a really good dark beer but doesn’t drink like a heavy beer.

sportingchiefs

The whole craft beer/distributor thing described here makes me think of the pubs here in England.

There is a Brewery here in my town called Greene King that is very similar to AB in the states. They’re the biggest and to compete with the craft beer market (because honestly, a lot of their beer is trash) they just buy them out and then repackage them as Greene King beers. But when you see a pub, like the one literally right next door to my house, it’ll say Greene King at the top, meaning that the beers offered inside are only Greene King, with the exception of a few “guest” beers. While not only controlling the beers offered on tap, they also usually have a hand in what food is served as well. It won’t be identical from pub to pub but most of them are “meh” at best dishes.

There is another set of pubs that you will see called “free houses” and these pubs have forgone selling to a bigger brewery, like Greene King, and instead can feature any beer they want. They’re not the rarest thing but being right in the backyard of GK, the majority of the pubs are GK ones. There are smaller breweries local as well, like Brewshed, who also own a few pubs in town and they offer quite a fantastic selection of beers. And with that, I’d say it’s time to punch out and hit the pub.

HawaiiFiveOh
HawaiiFiveOh

That’s some interesting information, like how some restaurants serve exclusively coke or pepsi products because they lease the vending machine from the distributor. But if they own the machine, they can serve whatever they want.

Falco16
Falco16

That’s sort of like draft systems in bars. My understanding is a distributor cannot buy your equipment or pay for your equipment but they can install it for you.

Based on that the distributor will do everything they can within the law to cut you as much break or do as much as possible with the asumption that you will be exclusive draft provider. Which is a tough thing to achieve.

Fire_FG_the_moron
Fire_FG_the_moron

Well, except for Taco Bell, KFC, Pizza Hut, Long John Silvers. They are all owned by a subsidary of Pepsico. Thus they serve Pepsi products.

Falco16
Falco16

Here everything is ran through the distributor. It’s not often that a retailer would choose to be exclusively on tap for a certain set of brands.

Say for example you want to go with the Miller Coors distributor. Well Bud Light is the number one selling beer in America. The fastest growing brand is Michelob Ultra (beats Bud in sales). It’s hard to ignore such huge brands. Pair those brands with a “must have” craft and it makes it hard for a retailer to tell the AB distributor they won’t buy anything from them because they can miss out on more than just “Bud Light”

Same the other way. It’s hard to tell the Miller/Coors guys you don’t want Blue Moon. A distributor has to leverage it’s whole portfolio to get as many handles as possible.

Anthony Stratton

We actually drank the Lug Tread first (Dave is going to argue this, then I will prove him wrong). It was damn good IMO. It was def a stronger more flavorful beer than Lost Craft, which after drinking a large bottle of the Lug made it very hard to even taste the Lost Craft. Being both Lagers I didn’t expect that much of a difference, but had I known I woulda started with it first (like Dave’s imaginary order) because I felt it got dis-serviced by an influenced palate.

But that Lug Tread was boss! Still got a bottle left…I want to drink it soooooo bad but then it’ll be gone….

Warpath
Warpath

Arkansas now has Yuengling. It is the closest to KC.
Bootleggers are alive and well people.

Anthony Stratton

Yup, thats where I got my stash from. Came home with 4 cases. These were the last 2…

Falco16
Falco16

I think part of the reason Yuengling isn’t in MO. is due to AB. I can’t say for absolute fact, but there is bad blood there.

Anthony Stratton

Makes sense AB would have bad blood to go along with their bad beer…

Falco16
Falco16

It happens

Sudden
Sudden

KCChef
KCChef

Lovin’ Life in Yuengling Country … : )