Tuesday, July 29, 2008


We have become excited about beer, our customers have become excited about beer, but some people still ask us: "Why are you featuring so much beer?". Beer has become like the great wine boom in the 80s. People were not satisfied with Blue Nun, Thunderbird, Carlo Rossi and other jug wines anymore. They started buying and drinking "small" production wine that showed more character, diversity, and personality. Beer is starting to explode in that same direction now.

The new issue of Wine Enthusiast Magazine arrived in my mailbox a few days ago, and one of their features was about beer (beer in a wine magazine?). Beer has always taken back seat to wine when it comes to food pairing and "status". They interviewed 4 of the top American Craft Brewers in the U.S. (or as they call them -- The Four Knights of the Keg Table)

Jim Koch - Sam Adams
Peter Bouchaert - New Belgium (Fattire)
Sam Calagione - Dogfish Head
Tomme Arthur - Port Brewing and the Lost Abbey

Here are some interesting quotes:
The Wine Enthusiast, September 2008

"I think that the generation that discovered wine 20 years ago is very excited to be discovering beer today. I look at people attending our beer dinners and they range from late 20s to mid-60s. These people are adventurous look beyond the wine list." -- Jim Koch

"A vast majority of beer drunk in this country is basically very slight variations of the same exact style--the light lager. When we throw imports into the mix, roughly 90% of the beer drunk in America is some variation of a light lager." -- Sam Calagione

"In 1967, the number one selling wine in the U.S. was Thunderbird, the fact masked the alternative universe of a handful of winemakers who in the 60s began making great wines. It took 20 years for that fact to become recognized by the average American consumer...Something that inspired me was a lunch I had with Robert Mondavi where he told me that what he saw in beer was what had happened with wine...we were just going to be 20 years behind....Robert Mondavi, God love him, he was right." -- Jim Koch

"Didn't Michael Jackson [the beer educator] say something back in the day that people who say they don't like beer just haven't been introduced to the wider range or spectrum of beers that are out there..." -- Tomme Arthur

"We started sort of experimenting with wine like ingredients and approaches right when we opened in 1985...aged on oak and fermented in Champagne yeast...white beer fermented in Pinot Noir grapes and aged in Pinot Noir barrels." -- Sam Calagione
Final comments --
It is great to see a revolution in beer. We are taking the approach to beer that we do in every aspect of our stores: great selection, great price, and great service. We do not just sit back and buy the beers, wines, or cheeses that are presented to us and everybody else in St. Louis. We aggressively bring in new products whether it is beer, wine or cheese. We are constantly contacting wineries and breweries about getting their products in St. Louis. It is not as easy as buying what is readily available, but it is much more exciting for us and our customers. Right now we have a ton of beers and wines that you cannot find anywhere else in Missouri! We would like to thank everybody for the great words and positive response to our beer, wine and cheese departments. With the constant increase in competition from national chains over the past years, we are able to still increase our sales-we thank for you support and loyalty. It is worth supporting local St. Louis retailers and restaurants. Keep St. Louis original. Your comments and suggestions are always welcome.


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Because its the best drink.

Barnacle Bill said...

Going to a tasting at a wine shop was always an adventure in the 80's and 90's. In the last few years, it has gotten rather boring. No surprises anymore. Now that Paul has been featuring the traditional but unavailable, as well as the new and creative brews, tastings are becoming an adventure again. It might even help to sell more wine.