Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Victory Dark Intrigue: you can have mine this year

I got a sample bottle of Victory Dark Intrigue last year. Circumstances compelled me to drink it almost immediately so I could review it for Malt Advocate, much as I wanted to let it age a few months. I liked it, it was good. But...you can have my bottle this year.

See, Victory's releasing Dark Intrigue (Storm King aged in bourbon barrels) at 11:30 AM on November 23 (get all the gory details here), in a big geek-frenzy release. Much as this is kinda fun, and I really did like the beer...well, two things. First, I'm leery of the whole circus atmosphere. I've been staying away from beer festivals, too. Maybe I'm just getting old, maybe I need a kick in the slats. Dunno. But the main reason is the second one: my son comes home from college the night before, and since he's only 20, I'd just as soon spend the day with him; maybe next year we'll both be there!

Anyway...seriously, go, get some, this is our answer to all the other madness releases that beer does. You think Black Friday's gonna be crazy? Check out Dark Wednesday. (By the way...there will be a small amount of draft DI in the taproom. Might be a little less crazy than the line for the retail store!)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

International Stout/Porter Day? Sure, I'm in

Got a press release from Chris D'Puia, the beer maven at O'Reilly's, in Harrisburg (apparently they're not going by T. Brendan O'Reilly's anymore?), about their participation in the 1st Annual International Stout/Porter Day, on November 3rd. I didn't know about this, but it has a website, and it's not Guinness's "Arthur's Day." Whatever, it's an excuse to drink dark ales, and I am down with that!

Here's what's going on at O'Reilly's. I won't be there -- too far with what else I have to do that day -- but I WILL be drinking dark beer somewhere, at home, if needs be.
Starting at 6:00, there will be a growler and bottle share in the banquet room, next to the Pub (parallel to the bathrooms). Please bring a growler or a bottle of your choice to share with all of the attendees. Please note that it does not have to be a Stout or Porter, but they are recommended due to the reason of celebration.
At 8:00, we move the festivities into O’Reillys itself, where there will be at least 6 Stouts or Porters on tap and one firkin on the bar. Ffej and ADG of “Think Tank” will be in the house that evening playing live music.
As for food, it will be available to purchase in the pub, and it can be brought in to the banquet room. Outside food will not be permitted in the banquet room. However, it is most important to note that this room is being provided to us free of charge to rent as long as we do not leave a mess behind, so please clean up after yourselves. 
So get dark, folks. Sounds like fun to me!

Friday, October 14, 2011

More on craft beer and super-premium spirits sales

I've been talking about how craft beer and high-end spirits sales continue to buck the economy...and I've been getting a string of comments from my favorite grammar-ignorant punctuation-avoidant anonymous poster crying me false, saying that sales aren't that good, and will soon (when? After ten years?!) crash back to normal. Well...sorry, "Punkin Head," but there's more good news, this time from an interview with Midwest supermarket chain Hy-Vee's vp of wine and spirits, Jay Wilson in Shanken News Daily. Check it out...

Sales of beverage alcohol at the 245-unit Hy-Vee Inc. supermarket chain throughout the Midwest approached $500 million at the end of its fiscal year on September 30, according to Jay Wilson, vice president of wine & spirits. Total sales at the employee-owned chain were at $7 billion for the period. Hy-Vee is opening 3 new stores this year, and will have 248 units in the following eight states by year-end: Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Missouri and Kansas. Its beverage alcohol departments range from 6,000 square feet down to a single 40-foot aisle. Wine and spirits each account for 30% of sales, with beer at 40%. The chain has made a commitment to educating its sales staff and has become a destination for wine, spirits and beer drinkers seeking selection and good value. So far, over 350 employees have received certification recognized by The Society of Wine Educators. 
[Edited here...]
SND: How has the slow economy of the past few years affected your business?
Wilson: While the on-premise accounts have been hurt, people are still buying alcoholic beverages to take home. So they’re coming to us instead of going out.
SND: When Market Watch interviewed you in 2008, beverage alcohol sales at Hy-Vee were $350 million. How have you done in the years since?
Wilson: We just finished our fiscal year on September 30, and we’re very close to half a billion dollars in beverage alcohol sales.
SND: How do you account for that growth? What’s driving it?
Wilson: Craft beer is up 35% and we have really embraced this market. We’re putting 44 feet of nothing but craft in an open-air cold case. We’ve also got some big growth categories in spirits. Vodka is the leading category for us, while Irish whiskey is showing about a 45% trend up over the last three years for us. Additionally, rum is a very big and growing category for us.
SND: Are you seeing any return to super-premium spirits?
Wilson: We’re seeing people going back to them. And there are some people who never left them. But we’re definitely seeing solid growth there.

Note: despite craft enthusiasts' fears that supermarkets will ignore crafts for the "big bucks" of mainstream beer, Hy-Vee clearly sees the benefit of craft's bigger margins.

Ball's in your court, "Punkin."