I had a moment of euphoria in Kroger last weekend. I went to peruse the beer section to see what impact our new TN laws had on the beer selection. If you’re not aware, as of January 1st “beer” in the state of Tennessee had changed from 6.25% to 10.1%. There was much rejoicing as this had been a very limiting, arcane, backwards law on our books that hurt the consumer and our local brewers who faced additional challenges with beer brewed above 6.25%.
Now, I’ll admit, I don’t buy a bunch of beer from Kroger as with two young kiddos, I have no problem filling a cart as it is. However, there I stood last Saturday staring at Ballast Point Sculpin – which wasn’t even in this state until just recently, Stone Brewing Company, Bell’s Two Hearted, the bottles and cans went on. Where was I? What’s happened?! For a beer snob like me, this is great stuff!
As I drove home with a car full of groceries (but no beer) I started to reflect on what I had seen. I also began to think about what beer I’d still need to go to the liquor store to get. Then it hit me – the liquor stores! I had asked questions of these guys and girls before January 1st; how was it going? Did they think that wine in the grocery stores had a negative impact or not? How was foot traffic? The answers weren’t as positive as I had hoped. Now, it’s nice to be able to sell a cork screw and crackers alongside a bottle of wine (part of this new law allowed liquor stores to sell things other than alcohol) but I was hearing that sales were down – at least on wine. What would happen with beer? Would overall sales increase or just shift?
I imagine that sales will largely shift but we’ll pickup a few newbies in the process. We’ll see some change. A couple things on this:
- Just about every liquor store in the area is locally owned. These are our friends and neighbors. That’s not to say that other places where we can buy beer aren’t locally owned too – as many of them are – regardless, something to consider. Yes, these guys can also sell other alcohol – also true. That said, wine and beer can be a chunk of sales for some stores though.
- Anything above 10.1% can only be sold at a liquor store. By and large, this isn’t that big of a deal as most of us aren’t cracking these big beers that often. However, there are a few times a year where we’re all looking for that special bottle. It may be a Bourbon County (~14%), Founders KBS (~11-12%), Wiseacre Astronaut Status (~10.5% – wouldn’t surprise me if they adjust this recipe just a bit) – and those are just a few off the top of my head. If you want those, the liquor store is your spot. Often these special types of beers are allocated based on sales too. Something to keep in mind next time you are considering a sixtel of Goose Island IPA for poker night with the boys – might want to order it from your favorite liquor store.
We here at Knox Beer Snobs don’t endorse any particular person or store. We’re pro-Knoxville, pro-Tennessee and pro-southeast region – AMERICA! We’ll tell you where we got something but we won’t say, “don’t buy here” because that ain’t cool. Mamma always said if you don’t have anything nice to say, say nothing at all – we believe in that. We’re also afraid mamma might get out that wooden spoon and beat us if she finds something nasty on here.
That said, please, by all means, buy beer at the grocery store, at our fantastic local bars and restaurants, our local bottle shops (and we’ve got some awesome ones!), at our local breweries that we are INCREDIBLY blessed to have, at the gas station if that works for you. All we ask is that you not forget our friends at the liquor store. After all, they were an oasis in the desert for a very long time.
It’s a fantastic time to be in Tennessee. We are truly fortunate in the talent that is reflected in our local brewers, establishments that are putting their best efforts forward with amazing selections, distributors who are bringing in the breweries we’ve always wanted and a craft beer community that is nothing short of amazing. We appreciate you all!