Arlington, VA

Editor’s Note: This sponsored column is written by Nick Anderson, beermonger at Arrowine (4508 Lee Highway)

As a retailer, the question I hear the most in my day-to-day conversations at work is “Do you have…?” Sometimes my answer is no. There are a few reasons why that would be the case, and I do try to explain why I don’t have something available. Not to toot my own horn, but I’ve always tried to be uniquely open with customers about some of the behind-the-scenes of our business; even within the world of retail the alcohol industry is weird and I believe educating consumers demystifies some of the vagaries that can confuse and frustrate buyers. So for those of you heading out to stock up on beer, here are some reasons I or any other retailer may not have the specific brew you’re looking for:

It’s out of stock: The most common reason and the simplest, except for the often overlooked factor of a distributor being out of stock. Virginia is a classic ‘three-tier’ state: I buy my beers from distributors who own the rights to brands in our state. In fact, every restaurant and retailer has to buy their beers (and wines) from the specific distributors who own the rights to them. Occasionally for any popular brand, demand outstrips supply and we all just have to wait for another truck to arrive from a brewery to their distributor. I promise I’m not trying to not have that beer you need for your party this weekend that I always have.

It’s not available here: The second most common reason I don’t have a requested beer. I often mention in this space beers that aren’t available in Virginia, but getting those beers here isn’t a matter of my simply asking for the brewery to send them. A brewery has to determine that they want to sell their wares here and then make a deal with a distributor in Virginia before I can even think about seeing it. This is one of the many ways the alcohol business is just odd — I can’t just get what I think will sell or what I think is interesting. I’m at the mercy of a whole separate industry that determines what I can/cannot purchase and stock. Weird, right? Again, though: I promise I’m not trying to not have your beer. Unless…

I just don’t carry it and don’t plan on stocking it: Yup, unless I just don’t want it. Even with the space that I’m blessed to have at Arrowine, there are a good dozen or so breweries whose stuff I can’t regularly carry because I just don’t have room. Beyond that, there are so many options within a couple miles of our shop in each direction that I don’t necessarily feel like overlapping what they run with. That isn’t to say your local shop can’t get that beer for you: if a customer gets a hold of me early enough in the week I can usually get whatever they want for the weekend, regardless of whether it’s something I regularly carry or not. I want to make you, as the customer, happy but if I feel that you’d be better or more quickly served by a nearby store who stocks something I don’t, I’ll let you know.

Happy hunting. Until next time.

Nick Anderson maintains a blog at www.beermonger.net, and can be found on Twitter at @The_Beermonger. Sign up for Arrowine’s money saving email offers and free wine and beer tastings at www.arrowine.com/mailing-list-signup.aspx. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

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