Thursday, July 8, 2010

Lukas Liquor Superstore: A Word Of Caution

Last year, one of my favorite beers was Lagunitas' Imperial Red Ale. Hoppy, rich, super flavorful, and only about $8.99 per six-pack made it a great find AND a great bargain.

I've been on the lookout for it this year as well, but I hadn't seen any until this past weekend. My wife and I made a trip to Lukas Liquor Superstore at 135th and State Line to check the selection. We're closer to the one at 119th and Metcalf, but the Missouri store has a somewhat larger selection due to a larger number of breweries licensed to distribute there.

Sure enough, as we made it to the back of the store, two six-packs of the good stuff were sitting there on the shelf.

I was happy, but the fact that Lagunitas beers are just about everywhere these days made me a bit suspicious that I hadn't seen the Imperial Red anywhere else in the Metro.

(That, and two different people have told me they have found a lot of old beer on Lukas' shelves.)

I looked at the bottles for clues only to find a lengthy serial number stamped on each with no obvious "code" to determine the brew date.

After picking up a couple other treats, we headed to the cashier. I asked if there was any way to make sure this wasn't left over from last year. She emphatically told me there was no way this could be left over from last year; they keep a very tight inventory and there's no way it would be old.

Fair enough; off I went with my beer.

Most who know me would understand I could not leave it at this.

I emailed Lagunitas:

I'm a fan of Lagunitas out here in Kansas City.

I've been looking around for the Imperial Red this year, and I hadn't seen it...until I happened to find some last night.

Problem is, I get the sneaking suspicion it's left over from last year.

So I thought I'd ask:

1. When did you last brew the Imperial Red?

2. If this is an old batch, how does it hold up to aging?

It was one of my favorites last year, so I won't throw it out unless you tell me it's going to be hella skunky.

In the meantime, the Undercover Shutdown will keep me company.


The response (emphasis mine):

Hello (jjskck),

We have not brewed the Imperial Red since last year. It should hold up well if the storage conditions were good. For obvious reasons, I cannot guarantee that it was stored properly or that there were no temperature changes in storing the beer.

I would suggest that you open one up and see.

Hope this helps….


Lagunitas Brewing Co.

I haven't tasted the beer yet, since I'm in the process of finishing a sixer of Rogue's dry-hopped red. But that's not the point.

The point is: if you're shopping at Lukas, you should check your beer to make sure you're getting fresh stuff.


KC Wort Hog said...

Yeah, old beer is probably my #1 reason for not going there often. Too bad the checkout person was wrong, but I've definitely learned that you really have to talk to the beer buyer to get the right info. They do have several things that are hard to find elsewhere in KC, but you have to watch dates as it's easy to get some of last year's stock. Royal's guilty of this as well (I bought some Schlafly Kolsch from last year not long ago, not realizing it wasn't this year's batch), though I see them bulk-binning old beer more than Lukas.

I don't hold it against the liquor stores for trying to sell older stock, as they want to sell inventory of course... But if they're going to do so, I would at least love to see them store their craft beer in refrigeration units. Won't be holding my breath, though.

Chimpotle said...

Red X does the same thing. I'd say most liquor stores aren't above it.

JJSKCK said...

Thanks for weighing in. It's good to know that we beer folk should pay attention regardless of which outlet we're perusing.

And while I don't disagree with selling old inventory, I do disagree with being vehemently told they weren't doing so.

Liquid Diets said...

Of course, the guys at Lagunitas are whacked out of their skulls on weed 99% of the time, so they MIGHT not really know the last time they actually brewed the stuff! lol

The DLC said...

JJS, that's exactly the problem: they flatly lied to you when you asked a reasonable question. What's the harm in just being up-front? You all said that you don't fault them for trying to move older stock.

Big Dee said...

This is always an ongoing problem with Lucas. Earlier this year they had hundreds (and I mean hundreds) of case of Pyramid that were months beyond the expiration date. This was not their old stock. They took this off the hands of the distributor and slashed the price to move the stuff. There were about 6 different beers styles. Out of date Hefeweizen anyone? No thanks.

JJSKCK said...

Interesting to hear that, Big Dee.

To update, I've now tried two bottles out of the six-pack. The first was still rather tasty and drinkable, but there were little hints of “off” flavors that indicate it was showing its age a bit. The 2nd bottle I had was more or less ruined. Definitely not right. I won't be going back to Lukas any time soon.