Limited Release Beers – Purchase Limits or No Holds Barred?

No Limits:

This post is either going to have you agreeing vehemently with me or cursing me. Breweries release seasonal once-a-year beers and when they’re limited, supply is as well.

This isn’t a bitter-I-didn’t-get-any-beer post, we got three bottles and that was what we hoped for.

This week’s big release in the Vancouver and Victora area was Driftwood’s Sartori Harvest fresh hop IPA. We all love it and short of putting a GPS tracker on the Driftwood truck (which I’m doing next year), you wait to see when each liquor store tweets that it’s arrived.

What follows next is mayhem, panic, and a mix of over-joyed and pissed-off beer geeks. Most liquor stores don’t put limits on the number of beers you can buy of a special release and this is where the mayhem and panic starts. Those who are unemployed or self-employed are usually the ones who can drop everything and RUN to the liquor store. For me, my boss wouldn’t take too kindly to a 10am email saying I have a beer emergency. See you in an hour. Sure Lynn, and here’s a box for you to pack up your office. Enjoy the beer.

The people buying multiple quantities of the special releases – is it for their own consumption or are they sending it to their trading partners? Sure, it’s nice to trade our beer and get unique beers in return but it’s annoying to the local consumer when the beers sell out and are shipped out of Province.

With this release, some stores received as few as 12 cases. So no limits meant that some people bought a case and others less, but many bought six bottles. Do the math, 12 – 24 of your regular customers got to purchase this beer. As a business owner, aren’t you more concerned about pleasing a larger percentage of your customers rather than a quick sell out? We all know the beer will still sell out, likely in mere hours, but you’re able to please more customers if you actually give them an opportunity to purchase said beer.

Personally, I don’t need a case of any beer. We just don’t have the room for it even with a full-sized fridge and a wine fridge solely devoted to beer. Yes, that’s a good problem to have, I know. As well, as good as a beer may be, I don’t want to drink it nightly and with a fresh hop beer, the younger the beer the better. You don’t want to save this one to drink over the next few months.If stores put a limit of 2 – 4 beers, many more of their customers would have an opportunity to get to their store and likely buy other product. Isn’t that a win-win for everyone?

If only a few stores put limits, they’re pooh-pooh’d and those that want a lot shop elsewhere.  Before the next beer gong show, I hope the stores consider banding together and placing similar limits. It’s good beer karma to share with your beer-loving friends. Group hug.

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