Friday, July 18, 2008

Wegmans Beer Upgrade in Syracuse?

I have this on "good authority."

I was at a well-known beverage store in Syracuse today, and I heard the following proclamation by one of the people working there. And I paraphrase:

"We're gonna have some competition starting Monday. Wegmans is going to be revamping their beer selection."
[For those of you who don't know, Wegmans is THE best grocery store in these United States. There might be some better in other countries, but Wegmans is the best in America, and they already have a pretty solid -- if not spectacular -- beer selection.]

Now, I have seen no information either supporting or debunking this nugget of information, however we can only hope that Wegmans can raise the bar and force the other specialty beer stores in the Syracuse area to step it up a bit.

For a city of our size, we don't have anything approximating, say, a Finger Lakes Beverage (Ithaca), Glenville Beverage, Oliver's (both Albany/Capital District) or Marcy Beverage (Utica). And while I'm skeptical to think that Wegmans will start clearing the shelves of Busch, Keystone and Natural Ice for Dogfish Head Immort Ale or Three Floyds Alpha King, it is heartening to know that the savvy business people of the Wegmans chains could possibly be taking the lead on the Syracuse beer market.

There are couple of decent beer stores in the 'Cuse, notably Galeville Beverage in Liverpool, Brilbeck's convenience store on Tipperary Hill, and The Party Source on Erie Boulevard. Galeville and Brilbeck's are both surprisingly good places to get beer, given that they are housed in small convenience store-sized locations.

The Party Source, while probably the best place to get beer, is still underwhelming, with a major waste of space (more than half the floor space is empty) and beer that has a problem of being sold after the "best by" date, but at regular (ie. not-discounted) prices. Party Source still has the best selection, but that is by virtue of its size, and they don't rotate in new beers nearly often enough. Also, while you can get mixed six packs, they don't have some kind of "blue dot special" where selected beers can be mixed for something like $8.99, which every other store -- even the P&C supermarket chain -- is doing now. All beers in a mixed six pack are sold a la carte.

Hopefully Wegmans will recognize the value of craft beers and lead the local march to force craft beers to infiltrate Central New York. More information as it comes.

8 comments:

Rudy said...

I'm not sure what Wegmans in Syracuse currently carries, but in Buffalo I can regularly get a number of very nice craft brews including

- Victory Hop Devil, Storm King & recently Hop Wallop
- Southern Tier - the entire 12oz lineup, Unearthly, occasionally big red & triple
- Great Lakes Sampler 12 packs
- One of the super sweet lindemans products
- one or two Ayinger beers.
- Ommegang Abbey, Hennepin, Witte, Rare Vos
- Duvel
- and the more common micros - brooklyn, sierra nevada, etc.

They aren't going to replace a dedicated beer store, but they've always got something tasty.

I wish they would carry the range here in Buffalo that they do in Rochester - I've seen Unibroue in Rochester Wegmans more than once. It'd be nice to snag a La Fin Du Monde while buying cat litter.

-rudy

Bill said...

Thanks for the comment. The selection at Weg's out here has been pretty decent as of the last 2 years or so, but they usually stop at the "mid-majors" as I call them (Victory, Dogfish Head, Magic Hat, Stone). I'm not saying they won't do that, but they could be a) expanding the beers they get in any given brewery (ie. more Victory beers, more Stone beers, etc.) or b) expanding the array of breweries they represent or c) the guy I overheard could have been full of crap.

On a side note, I'm hoping that the sale of A-B to InBev -- while hardly ideal -- will somehow stop giving macro drinkers a false sense of patriotism and get them to start drinking some of the "true American" craft selections. I wonder...

Buttle said...

In Rochester, Wegmans Pittsford (which makes many of the other Wegmanses look like Wilson Farms) has the Unibroue Rudy mentioned. Ommegang includes Ommegeddon and that Chocolate thingy, Brooklyn includes Local 1. But what's most promising to me are the Customer Brewcrafters growlers, which suggest a local approach. Would a Syracuse store stock Middle Ages growlers?

Bill said...

You are right about the Weg's in Pittsford. It is enormous and has a very good selection. Whenever I go back there to visit my parents I try and pick up a few growlers of CBC as well.

Middle Ages actually has a pretty good presence in Syracuse, and Wegmans sells a lot of the "Family Jewels" 12-packs. What's interesting is that Wegmans already has a very good beer selection for a grocery store, so if they are upgrading from their already sizeable selection, that can only be a good thing.

The reason I am cautiously optimistic is because I remember about a year ago someone told me that Tully's (the sports bar/restaurant) was going to be upgrading to good beers. But I went there a month or so ago and they had the same swill on tap they always did. So I don't want to get my hopes up.

Willie Moe said...

Whoa, whoa, whoa Bill! Swill? At Tully's? Surely you jest?! They have the whole Bud line-up available! And Guinness!

Bojangles said...

I knew I'd read that about Tully's beer selection somewhere:
http://beeradvocate.com/forum/read/1118237#1123932

Bill said...

It was 2006 people! And I never actually saw it with mine own eyes, to be fair.

Lonnie said...

I found this page in a search for a place that sells Leute Bokbier anywhere in Central New York. Any ideas?