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Not Enough Beer, WTF?! Signed, an Angry Loyal Customer

From The Iron Horse Brewery Blog

Not Enough Beer, WTF?! Signed, an Angry Loyal Customer


I see, not surprisingly, little, from my dumpy off-site office. Sometimes I open the blinds and see the backside of an old brick building and power lines, but often enough the sun is blaring through the window turning it into an oven so I tend to leave the blinds closed. More importantly is my lack of view of what is happening at ground level at the brewery, tasting room, micropub, distributors, and retailers. It is not that we don’t have an excellent and in-tune staff who convey the challenges to me. It is just that a layer of insulation tends to dull the pain. Add to that, the ongoing juggle of wholesale vs. retail, staff happiness vs. increased production and we end up with no one feeling truly loved. It is easier, perhaps, to have one child, but it is not ultimately better for the child or the parent. (unless you are the parents of an only child then i am sure it is better, it just screws up the analogy for me)

So here we are, iron horse brewery with a wholesale child and two retail children (which are kind of like siamese twins. and each distributor could be considered there own child and,boy, this is getting complicated). The strength of having retail and wholesale are at once obvious and obscure. Each has taken its turn in holding up the family budget in tougher times. They both promote iron horse brewery as a brand locally and regionally. Retail gives us direct consumer feedback, which is of immeasurable importance. Wholesale is demanding volumes of beer that will justify the imminent expansion of our production facility.

“No fair”, says retail, “we deserve more beer”. “No fair” says wholesale “we deserve more beer”. If only it were that simple. We take the concerns we hear seriously, they are real, and they trouble us.  The other day a “passionate” conversation was had by a few key staffers of the brewery. How do we solve this problem of limited supply and increasingly threatening demand was the question. Answers ranged from pull out of some distribution to get rid of specials at retail and raise prices. Everyone who participated had different views and something different at stake.  We all decided that we didn’t like any of the answers that we came up with but we had to be adults compromise and make some decisions. (Is anyone in Washington D.C. taking note?).

What we decided was this: Retail you have to give up something you have been accustomed to,  growler fills of every beer on tap. When we have a limited supply of a beer, it will be for pints only and when the cost of inputs is dramatically higher, the retail price will be higher as well. What we didn’t keep on the table was elimination of the smoking hot growler special, [you’re welcome!] and our everyday rock bottom growler prices. While prices always go up, and ours will on some items, we value getting good product to local consumers at prices that reflect cost of living and current economic factors.  Wholesale? You’re stuck, we are at capacity and there will be no more volume being carved out of retail for your benefit. We love you, but difficult decisions have to be made.

Now, I prepare myself for the barrage of angry comments. Let me have it, I love abuse.

Hugs and Kisses

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One Comment

October 21, 2011 6:31 pm

Greg (and all of those at Ironhorse),

I was once a student at CWU and enjoyed the consistent flow of Ironhorse beers. My personal favorite being “Irish Death”. I have since moved down to Scottsdale AZ and have now been a year and a half removed from Ellensburg and consequently Ironhorse beer.

Even though this might not directly speak to your blog topic (I just clicked the first comment), the idea of expanding your distribution to AZ would greatly benefit my life. (I am thinking for asking for a growler of ID for Christmas, FedEx is cool with that right?).

So this is more of a love note to the tasty beers you produce and a thank you for turning me on to the culture that goes along with microbreweries. I have since found another love. Not that it could replace Irish Death, but it is a tasty alternative named Kiltlifter. And the brewery (Four Peaks) has amazing food to compliment this tasty beer. If you ever wanna bar hop 1500 miles away, be sure to stop by and check this place out.

Every time I end up back in WA I get my hands on that goodness and I savor every last drop. Keep on crankin that stuff out, you got em beat.


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