Archive for the ‘Beer Review’ Category

For those of you interested in the continuing travails of Founders KBS in Virginia, here is the “real scoop” as provided by Founders Brewing Co. President Mike Stevens, posted to Beer Advocate on April 22:

“We had made a label change on KBS that forced us to re-submit for label approval at the federal level. Our first attempt for approval was denied and we had to make further changes. Those changes have been made and re-submitted yet again. The delay has been at the fed level and not the state. We have hired an attorney in DC to help expidite this approval and expect we should see that approval with in 1-2 weeks. After this we need to submit it to VA for acceptance. I am not worried about any delay at the state level as the state simply approves all submittals that have been approved by the feds so this turn around is literally days. My hope is that KBS can be released for sale in the next 2-4 weeks. Sorry for the delay and hopfully we can fix this problem quickly.

Mike Stevens
Founders Brewing Co.”


Dear Sam and all the Off-Centered peeps at Dogfish Head Brewing:

I am sure you don’t remember me, but we have met on several occasions, most notably at RFD and the Brickskeller in Washington, D.C., and the first-ever SAVOR event held in D.C. in 2008. I own a copy of your book, Brewing Up a Business, I’ve toured the Milton brewery, I’ve visited the Rehobeth brewpub on several occasions, I enjoy trying all of your beers at least once and I was an earlier adopter of your Alehouse restaurants in the D.C. area.

I especially enjoy Aprihop, 90 Minute IPA (more on that later), Festina Peche and the so-called 75 Minute IPA (at the restaurants). Raison’ d’Etre is also delicious and a great (make that superior) alternative to an unnamed bicycle-based beer from Colorado, in my humble opinion. To put it more succinctly, I like Dogfish Head. More to the point, I want to like Dogfish Head.

But …

I became beer manager at a prominent wine and beer store in Alexandria, VA, in October 2008, where Dogfish Head has been one of the best selling brands for years. All the beer-geeknoscenti (my affectionate term) count on us to get all the new releases when they become available. Regular customers who are Dogfish Head heads follow your online release schedule and expect us to have your beers when the schedule says they will be there. And, of course, they expect the year-round beers to be on our shelves, well, year-round. Unfortunately, that has become a bit of a crapshoot over the past year or so.

As of this writing, I haven’t been able to order Palo Santo Marron since mid-February and it has been out of stock since early March. 90 Minute IPA has been unavailable from our distributor for more than a month and this isn’t the first time that we have had to go for extended stretches without 90 Minute. Your so-called “occasional rarieties” have been even more problematic. Beginning with the release of Sah’tea last year (for which I had to wait for more than a month after your local rep assured me that it would be delivered the next day), these releases seem to be more and more off-schedule and, more importantly, in increasingly shrinking amounts. When we receive things like Burton Baton, Olde School Barleywine and Immort Ale, we are told that we can get one or two cases maximum at a time. This means that I can either sell 12 4-packs of Burton or 48 individual bottles every four months or so, leaving many of my (and your) loyal customers emptyhanded. Personally, I’d rather you released Burton once a year in amounts that would satisfy all my customers instead of dribbling out a case or two per store and forcing me to play umpire.

I am somewhat at a loss to understand this, let alone explain this to our customers. Is the brewery trying to produce too many different beers without sufficient capacity? Is it trying to reach too many new markets without providing enough beers for its already-established customer base? Has Dogfish Head become more of a culture of personality than a craft brewery concerned more about getting an article in The New Yorker or putting on bocce ball tournaments or opening Manhattan beer bars than it is about making quality beers that its customers can drink?

I guess the point I am trying to make here is that we retailers are your frontline troops. If you don’t supply us with your ammunition, we get killed or we use someone else’s ammo. If someone comes in asking for 90 Minute IPA, for the last month I have to tell them we can’t get any from the brewery and suggest that they try somthing else, such as New Holland Imperial Hatter or Founders Double Trouble or Avery Maharaja or Oskar Blues Gubna, etc. etc.

Popularity is a two-edged sword. It’s great when everyone is asking or your products, but it’s frustrating to customers and sellers alike when we can’t supply your coveted brews in a timely manner. Is it asking for too much? I hope not.

Very Truly Yours,

The Beermudgeon