"Shady Merchan(t)dise  "
by  Clay Moore


Everyone knows that moments of crisis tend to bring out the best and worst in
people, and those on the east coast are all too familiar with this in recent months.

The last time I checked, the craft beer industry was thriving. West coast breweries are
opening up shops east of the Mississippi and small craft breweries are finalizing their
regulatory hoop-jumping to start up and join the fun.

So, why are some liquor stores being such shady characters lately?

Over the past 6 months, I've noticed an increase in uncraft behavior in
NJ liquor stores. While this is not a new phenomenon, it seemed to rear its
ugly head during the first drop of Enjoy By in August 2012 and for each
super-rare release by other brewers since then.

The games that some played by pretending they didn't have it or having
it and selling 1 bottle per person while selling the next person multiple bottles
just isn't right. For any beer, I would not be opposed to a one bottle limit or a
few days before allowing multiple purchases to take place. However, this only
works if ALL stores play by the rules, which is unlikely.  

Here are 2 recent examples of what seems to be rule more than
the exception lately. The names have only slightly changed, but
we aren't protecting the innocent here.

1) Two of my friends on separate occasions at the same Union County
store were refused a 4 pack of XXXX after the on-floor salesperson
was willing to sell it. However, when the manager came out from
behind his mighty curtain and made up some story that it had to
be "pre-ordered," both sales were refused by the store.

(2) With confirmation from a bar owner and one with intimate
knowledge, I walked in to purchase a bottle of XXXX at a Somerset County
liquor store. The"delicate genius" was called to the front when I inquired:

Can I get a bottle of XXXX?
We didn't get any XXXX deliveries with the holidays
-Are you sure?
Yep (walks away)  
-I guess I should just ask what you have in the back and start there.
I don't give up anything. If you have something
 in mind, ask me and I'll tell you if I have it.                
-Do you have any XXXX?
I have 2 left. You can have them.
(I'm so special, I can HAVE them)
-Ok. Got any XXXX?
No. We didn't get any.
-This is ridiculous.

I don't care if you are a consumer, a distributor, a brewer or an owner of a liquor
store, but is this the type of conduct that you want associated with your industry?
While the Big 3 sit atop their Beechwood aged, triple hopped, rocky mountain
thrones and churn out what they pretend to be craft beers, the craft world has
created a secret society where it's truly the haves and have nots -- where elitists
who are part of the supply chain are improperly controlling what the
consumer can obtain. That's quite uncraft.

Just like the sports fan who knows their favorite athletes are taking PEDs,
of course we know that some of you are holding back bottles for your friends
or your personal cellar stash -- but that is simply because you are
dumb enough to say it out loud and brag about it at the bar.

The cat is out of the brown bag.

Since widespread change isn't going to occur anytime soon, the best way
to combat this is to simply don't take no for an answer (which could get awkward
and confrontational), stop going to these stores in lieu of more honest ones
or thumb your noses at these stores altogether and fill a growler elsewhere.
Beer bars can't hide what they have on tap due to their reliance on
social media promoting their tap lists, so you are likely never to
encounter the same issue there.  

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to wait in line for the next bottle of a 4X IPA so rare
that I have to provide my social security number to get it.

But only after the guy behind the counter puts 2 aside for himself and his beer bros.
More From Moore  -  nothing but beer here.....
Clayton Moore
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