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Feb 27

Pliny woes. I need a strong one. Lockin’ it up.

My beery life this week: February 20-26, 2011

Sunday: Anything goes

Sunday is my weekend — it should be a favorite day, but one-day weekend really isn’t enough. I find myself torn. My body tells me, “Relax & recharge my batteries!” But my head says, “Laundry, dishes, vacuuming, grocery shopping, gardening, …” The dog says, “Brush me, love me, let’s play ball!” And sometimes friends and family interject with, “Let’s hangout!”

Miller LiteI usually do a little relaxing and a little house cleaning, with beer in hand. Sunday, February 20th I head over to the fridge to see what beers are inside. There’s that Mariners aluminum bottle of Miller Lite. I think we’ve had it for nearly a year. It’s been a long time since I’ve had a Miller lager and, if memory serves, it’ll be light, crisp and refreshing. Everything else in the fridge is heavy.

I crack it open, not following baseball I have no idea which Mariner is on the can. And I neglect to read it, just snap the photo and toss the can into the recycling bin. The beer goes down really easy. In just 10 minutes or so my glass is empty. Sometimes you just want a crisp, clean lager.

Note to self: Pick up craft lagers for home fridge. Full Sail, Roslyn, Oskar Blues, Maui, Sam Adams,…

I end the evening with a glass of Silver City Fat Woody. It’s on tap, at home.

Dang. The weekend’s already over.

Monday: My curiosity is piqued

Off to the store. A couple arrived 20 minutes before opening and stood outside for 15. Not sure why people don’t wait in their cars when it’s cold outside. The hours on the door say we open at 12. I still have prep work to do before opening. They disappear. When I was unlocking the door promptly at 12:00, I was glad to see they weren’t deterred and returned to pick up a few brews.

Dennis manned the storefront while I continued researching beers to get caught up on tags. Yes, all those little tags you read are prepared by me. It’s been a long time since I’ve had time to work on tags and, frankly, I’m embarrassed by all the “temporary” handwritten price tags that’ve been there for months. I’m reading about the new Dugges beers from Sweden, so I select the beer to sample tonight:

Never Mind the Bollox!Never Mind the Bollox! an Imperial IPA by Dugges Ale & Porterbryggeri of Sweden. As of February 21, it’s got just three reviews on BeerAdvocate but five pages of reviews on RateBeer — and those reviews have flavor descriptions that are all over the place. I even read something about notes of chocolate in a couple of those reviews. Chocolate notes in a supposed West-coast European-brewed double India pale ale? That’s just weird. My curiosity is piqued.

(This word, “piqued” is used correctly due to a short language lesson by beer writer, Don Sch!)

The label says something about having sugar added. That goes without saying. This is definitely a sweet, sugary beer. There’s some pleasant hoppiness, which may have started out big and full like a West-coast style though it now appears faded, muted. Like it’s been on a long journey, just like its forefather IPAs who traveled from England to India; only this one has traveled from Sweden to Seattle. The malts are light and caramelly. The hops wrap to the sides of my tongue for a little bitter linger. But I can’t get past commenting on how sugary this beer is.

Rant for the day: I hate that people just walk back and enter our private restroom, ignoring signs that say “Restroom for Employees Only.” My nose is most sensitive to bodily aromas and this is really drivin’ me crazy. No amount of beer they buy can make up for what some leave behind. Many animals are cleaner and less aromatic when it comes to their business than “civilized” people. This truly amazes me. I really need a deadbolt on that door.

Tuesday: I’m gonna make some changes

We’re now 53 days into 2011 and I have done nothing to move toward my goal of dropping a few sizes. My mind thinks of myself as more slender, but my bumping into bottles whilst stocking and scooting along inside the cooler tells me I’m fat. My large size clothes tell me I’m fat. The numbness, tingling, foot pains…, they all tell me, “Hey girl, lose some weight.” For the past week I’ve been seeing signs for ZUMBA classes on my way to the store.

There’s a class at 10AM. Tuesday I’m working on client projects, but I should be able to spare 60–90 minutes to attend an exercise class. I contact them via facebook to ask if I can just show up for the class, unregistered. To my surprise, the instructor is online and says, “Just come, Tiffany!” So I went. It was fun. I rewarded myself with a glass of Fat Woody at home — a beer after exercise is supposed to be good for you.

Wednesday: Dark times a dingin’

Well, it’s not really dark times as much as a weird dark beer. And I’ll explain the dingin’ later. I’ve been eyeing the two Stillwater beers since they arrived at the store last week. Stillwater Existent has me most perplexed as the distributor lists it as a black IPA on the invoice, but the dark beer’s label clearly says “Farmhouse Ale.” What I said on my facebook page:

Stillwater ExistentI’ve never had a beer like this before. It’s barnyard Belgian funky yeast on the nose, but has a distinct char on the palate along with the saison-y thing. So unusual. A little peppery is starting to come thru now.

IMO, too weird to become too popular.

Getting some sour chocolate now. …sour dark fruits with a little dark chocolate char drizzle? LOL //…//

This is definitely a beer for a very narrow range of customers. There are a handful that would go for it. I don’t try to get folks into beers they wouldn’t like.

I’m surprised at the ’93′ score on RateBeer for it. I’d put it more in the category scored on BeerAdvocate, “Very Good” — or “good”…

Ok, here’s my best descriptor for Existent– “Baltic Porter meets Belgian Saison”

When I say Baltic Porter, I mean more like Aldaris Porteris with its sour fruity notes and Baltika 6 with its bittersweet chocolate notes. And the saison-y thing, yes, do read “FUNKY!” But Existent also has a big char like that you may find in a big imperial stout such as Le Coq, or licking a burnt-out campfire log.

Central City Brewing Red Racer Pale AleSome local beer folk jumped in on the conversation, which erupted into a knock-down drag-out post hijack, name-calling and about a dozen deleted posts. It was all happening while I was eating dinner, so most of what I heard was “Ding” … “Ding, ding” … “Ding, ding, ding Ding Ding Ding Ding Ding!!” of my smartphone alerting me of the chatter. I peaked in on the post after dinner and read things so heated that made my glasses nearly melt. I grabbed a Red Racer Pale Ale to cool off. (Thanks to Gerry & Dustin for bringing this pale to me from B.C. Canada.) By morning just 31 comments remained on that facebook post. Though an assault in words took place for real-time observation, little was left posted for the next morning’s voyeuristic eyes.

My takeaway from peeking in on the dingin’ chatter: There is clearly frustration in our local beer industry between retailers and distributors. And some believe we should “make even the worst beer sound good to the consumer.” I disagree with that sentiment. Why push someone into a beer they probably won’t enjoy when there are hundreds of other choices?

Thursday: Flurry of forgetfulness

I started the day totally bummed because my ZUMBA class was cancelled. Snow day! I have no recollection of much other than we were slammed at the store. The roads were too icy in the morning and the snow was coming down so many local schools were closed and many adults called off at work. And once the ice melted, they all came in looking for beer. Three big deliveries arrived, including beers from Russian River Brewing. What did we drink this night? I don’t remember. Maybe I should check my untappd tab? Nah.

Friday: I’m glad to meet Vlad

Craig’s not happy that he’s got to do will-calls today. We work hard to make sure customers get special orders; will-calls are one of the extra-steps we take. The keg was in-stock on Tuesday; Wednesday the distributor was showing 5 kegs in stock. Why the order didn’t get locked in, we don’t know. All we know is Thursday it was a no-show on the truck and they didn’t get back to us until Friday with the news that they had NONE! C worked with his sources and got a hold of the keg for our customer. When picking up the keg, the customer and his buddy were so happy, giving each other high-fives when C wheeled the keg out of the cooler. It’s rewarding to see folks that excited about a keg of delicious craft beer.

Cascade Vlad the Imp AlerCurtis from Cascade Brewing / Raccoon Lodge dropped off a case of Vlad the Imp Aler in the afternoon. One case, just 12 bottles. At $22.99 each, with a 1/person limit, I wonder how long the case will last? I pop one in the cooler for us to sample. That leaves 11 to sell.

When sampling, C said it best, “Musty lemons.”
Mmmm. I love lemons.

I’m just enjoying this beer, not to reviewing it. If you’re looking for a review, the descriptions on BeerAdvocate are pretty accurate.

Saturday: I’m so ready for this week to be over

Thursday we received our shipment of Russian River beers. I have a love-hate thing with Pliny the Elder. Every day, and I mean EVERY day, people ask all day long, “Do you have Pliny?” I always give the same response, “Watch the facebook page and twitter feed as we’ll announce its arrival. Once you see it, come in soon as it sells out within two to three days.” Some tell me outright they refuse to follow us and will ask or call instead. I don’t think they realize how it is like a broken record, “Do you have Pliny? Do you have Pliny? Do you have Pliny? Do you have Pliny? Do you have Pliny? Do you have Pliny? Do you have Pliny?

…this is part of being a specialty beer retailer that must be endured.

Since Pliny the Elder only comes in once every five weeks or so, we do our best to try to spread it out among as many beer fans as possible. This means per person bottle limits and sometimes allocating a certain number of bottles for release for both weekday and weekend customers.

This shipment of Pliny the Elder was different than normal. As Pliny the Younger (draft product) was included in the shipment to the distributor and just received a ton of press during San Francisco Beer Week, the search for Pliny the Elder was also intensified. In less than four hours, over half our Pliny the Elder was gone. At this rate, it wasn’t going to last beyond Thursday — and it arrived Thursday!! We need to make it last into Saturday so folks who work during the week have a chance to get some bottles on the weekend. We regroup in the office for a pow-wow.

The decision: We’ll sell only what remains in the door on Thursday. Half the remaining will be released at 10AM Friday, the other half at 10AM Saturday. Per person bottle limits will be changed from 4/person to 2/person. I immediately post this information on our facebook page, keeping our customers informed.

Pliny the Limited Returns

Two hours later a guy comes in asking for Pliny. He wasn’t happy that he’d have to come back Friday or Saturday morning like everyone else and later posts on our facebook page—

dislike!!!!!!! I drove an hour to get there. Denied! :( guess I`m not part of the cool kids club

I did a little scouting. His home city is same as the store, meaning he didn’t drive an hour just to get the beer but was stopping by on his way home from work. Oh, the drama without full disclosure! Since I’d already posted the days and times of releasing the final bottles, I respond—

Sorry that you missed today’s allotment, Jeff. I highly recommend that you let the brewery know you’d like to see more allocation of the Elder to 99 Bottles as we are trying our best to share the love to spread out to as many as possible. Sure, there are other businesses that get the Elder in our state who will sell the entire case of 24 to a single person. We don’t do this in order to get the beer to as many as possible. It has nothing to do with “coolness” or being in a “club.” It’s all first come, first serve. We have X number allocated to the store by the distributor. In effort to allow as many as possible to get the beer and have an extra bottle to share with a friend, we allocate out # bottles per day to sell, # bottles per person. We have hundreds of requests for this beer and it only comes in once every 5 weeks or so. -Tiffany

So why is this little ditty on my Saturday notes? We released the final bottles at 10AM Saturday morning, precisely as posted. Now it’s Saturday AFTER 2PM Jeff walks in asking me for Pliny the Elder. Really?!

When you know a beer is rare, why would you show up four hours after release time?
And if you can’t make it, why not arrange for a friend to stop in at release/opening time?

He acts put out. I am sorry he missed out. I gave him all the heads-up I could. I again encourage him to contact the brewery and ask that they have the store’s Pliny the Elder allocation increased. I don’t know if he’ll follow-thru with that. I don’t think it’s as much as he wants to buy his beers at our little beer store, but that he wants that beer in a convenient time/location for himself.

What does he want from me? Most likely for me to hold bottles for him. Really, if I had space to hold and wanted to play favorites by holding bottles, it would be for those nearly 800 club members who frequent our business, not for people who generally only shop with us when rare beers arrive.

*Sigh*

Sold out of Vlad. Wow, that was fast!! The last two bottles were purchased by two young guys.
These days 21-year-olds are drinking some really nice handcraft ales.

More people enter our private restroom today, ignoring the signage that clearly states “Employees Only.” After four years of disregard and disgusting “gifts” from the public, I’m really done with it. I need a deadbolt.

*Double sigh … and a bit of gagging*

Russian River SanctificationBy the end of Saturday, I really feel like I need a strong drink to take the edge off.

Instead, in honor of all this Russian River beer drama, tonight when getting home, I drink my first bottle of Russian River Brewing’s Sanctification.

Yum! Brett here imparts a nice lemony character. I love lemons.

Craig tells me he’ll get a deadbolt on the store bathroom since people ignore signs. We’re not running a convenience store for every Tom Dick and Harry to come strolling into, take a dump and leave. It can be rather frustrating when people treat it like … or leave … sh*t. I’m so glad it’s not required by law for our retail store to have public restroom. I wonder how long it’ll take to find a handyman who’ll charge a reasonable rate for lock installation?

Drinking my Sanctification, I am in bliss and am glad my “weekend” has just started.

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