Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Alpine Brewing - A Company That Doesn't Know What it Wants

Alpine Brewing - A Company That Doesn't Know What it Wants

Alpine Brewery is one of those San Diego gold mines for great craft beer in true S.D. fashion. Meaning that if you want a solid IPA, Pat and the folks of Alpine Brewery know how to make one. On the flip side, it doesn't seem like Pat knows much of anything about running a business, or at the very least know how to gracefully dance around issues dealing with his customers.

Take for example the situation going on currently where Windy City liquor, on their website called Craftshack, an online shop that ships beers outside of California exporting a lot of San Diego's great breweries.

On their website you can see they offer plenty of Alpine brewery beers. Stuff like Alpine Ale, Captain Stout and Willy right there on the site. Which got Pat pretty pissed. He usually hates the fact that his beers leave the San Diego county line as he believes his beer should be more for his locals. So much so that he changed the policy of the beer buying at the brewery to a very strict 3 bottles per person of each brew per day. Per their facebook page;

Looks like those trips all the way out to Alpine, even with your buddies, will be seen as nothing more than those grey market and illegal re-sellers getting their paws on some Alpine. It made you wonder that if they were selling beers illegally and there was plenty of evidence of it, why couldn't they just report it.

It also makes you wonder why Alpine commits so much tank space to the less popular beers like Willy, Apricot Nectar, Mandarin Nector, Captain Stout, Alpine Ale and more when they could be devoting that to Pure Hoppiness, Duet, Nelson and Expo. Hoppiness. But maybe it's because the locals drink it and Pat has been pretty evident about giving priority to the locals. Or does he? From their latest Facebook post-
Alpine Beer Company It's true, Windy City Liquor/Craftshack are not the only store to send in "mules." It's also true that they aren't the only reason for our limits. We simply can not brew enough beer to meet current demand, whether that demand be here at our Brewery and Pub, or at our VERY limited number of commercial accounts. We haven't had enough beer to take on new accounts for 5 years now, and we have even had to cut back on our existing accounts. WCL/CS were called out because they are the most blatant. They advertise our beer on their website, and offer to ship it, too. When they bragged to our Distributor's delivery driver that they (WCL/CS) get more Alpine beer than our Distributor (Artisan Ales in Pasadena), we took exception. We're not interested in pursuing legal action at this point- we'd rather let them voluntarily do business ethically. We don't wish a license suspension on any business. We're a small business, too, and we know how damaging that could be. So, to our loyal customers, please understand this isn't meant as a punishment for you, or to make you suffer. This is done to help keep our beer available to those of you who visit us often, at the same low prices we've always tried to maintain, without constantly running out. Thank you for your understanding and patience. This is, we hope, only a temporary problem, and when we're FINALLY able to get our new facility built, and/or secure contract brewing sources, maybe we can eliminate those limits, and start getting beer to some liquor stores near you. Don't expect WCL/CS to be one of those!

So it's pretty clear that they can't meet the needs of the customers in the production line. 
 New posts on FB thread

 Now this is the part that gets me. He's calling out one shop for something illegal - in that reselling beer that they did not get via distributors and got through mules going to the brewery. But then conveniently ignore something illegal from another shop. There's some seriously strange moral compass going on here. In that Alpine knowingly recommended a shop (Beverages for less) in San Diego that had just been identified to it as "Reselling" New Glarus and Foothills brewing bottles. These two breweries are listed on the inventory on their site, ye there's no distributors in California that services those stores in selling either of those breweries' respected beers.

Alpine took some kind of moral stance and then had it reversed on them and their friends. Don't get me wrong, WCL was in the wrong for reselling beer from Alpine they bought via mules. But it's a great hypocrisy on Alpine's part to condemn illegal re-selling of their beer at Alpine beer Company and on Ebay, and then promote stores like Beverages for less since they're the biggest culprits of this.

They then edited it out of their facebook page, but thankfully pictures were taken.

It's funny and reminds me of when a brewery complains that a distributor is paying a bar to take their beer off the tap and then they're like shit, my distributor does that too! In the end all parties end up looking worse off which is to be expected. Hopefully they all learned something from this lesson. 

But if anything, of the many breweries in hard desperation need of a tactful marketing and social media person to manage Alpine's brand and communications with the beer community, it's Alpine that needs it badly.  Like, I get the whole point of Pat wanting to keep beers more locally. But if they were pissed that Los Angeles sold their beer on ebay, enough so that they got rid of putting Exponential Hoppines into growlers, then perhaps you should keep your beer locally and not support an online sales company that sends your beer out of state.

More to the point, at what moment do you realize that you just need to brew good beer, sell that good beer and then stop giving a shit where it goes or what people do with it once it leaves your brewery. It seems like a complete waste of energy to do anything more than that.

I mean, I don't expect logical consistency from Pat at this point, but that's a pretty shameless display of hypocrisy and with the number of breweries in San Diego, I don't know if this is really great business choices for Alpine brewery.

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