I’ve never really thought of STL Hops as a “blog.” I mean the word “blog” already has a pretty nasty connotation, but this website has never really been about opinions or “what beer am I drinking?” I’ve tried to keep it mostly about news and information about beer in St. Louis.

But, there are plenty of stories to be told inside the beer business. I was hoping to create a new little series of posts talking about how that beer gets into your glass and onto the shelves from different people in the industry (and hopefully this will still happen). This post is from me, talking a bit about one aspect of the three-tier system.

With the release of some allocated beer there has been a lot of discussion on the STL Hops forums about how the stores get chosen. With my job now being firmly apart of the beer industry I thought it would be productive to have a look inside one aspect of the beer business: allocations.

Let me begin by saying that I won’t speak for the other local wholesalers because I honestly don’t know how they make their decisions into where allocated beers go for their markets. I can only let you in on how I make the decisions for these beers.

Each market is completely different, in my case the craft market in the city of St. Louis tends to be very heavily on-premise (bars and restaurants). We don’t have a large contingent of liquor stores or grocery stores (off-premise) that sell a lot of craft beer. So, when I get a allocated product most of my allocation will probably end up in bars and restaurants.

My next step is that I will usually sit down and look at the amount of beer sold at accounts around town. While store Z may sell a lot of craft beer, they may not sell a lot of the brand that has the allocated product. I know this seems like a no-brainer, but we’re going to reward the accounts that are supporting the brands.

But it’s not as simple as pure numbers sometimes. I will also base it on the best fit for some of these beers. While restaurant X may be selling slightly less beer than sports bar Y, clearly X is a better fit for a $25-40 bottle of beer. And typically Y has no interest in this beer anyway.

I’m personally a big fan of spreading the love as much as possible because it helps to expose people to these more unusual styles. I’m also perfectly fine with places like Schnucks getting these allocated beers because it sometimes means you can still randomly find this stuff on the shelves. While I obviously love our small and independent liquor stores, if all of the beer goes into just a couple of accounts, it usually only makes it into the hands of a limited amount of people.

Basically, there is no way to make everyone happy. Dolling out these allocated beers is never an easy task and you’re usually going to upset someone. The decision on who gets what is never easy and is never made lightly.