After BeerPulse broke the news late last month that Westvleteren XII would be exclusively sold at Total Wine in a handful of states, rumors were circulated, tempers flared, official announcements had to be released and a number of ‘mom & pop’ liquor stores felt left out in the cold. Emails and phone calls flooded Shelton Brothers’ office (hell, even an angry fax or two was sent).
The day of the big Westvleteren XII sale came and went and shopkeeps survived whether or not they had the privilege to sell the bricks.
But still, emails and calls have come in with some shops questioning their relationship with the beleaguered importer.
Nowhere has the dissent been louder than in the south, especially in Georgia and North Carolina.
In Georgia, a mini-mutiny led to complaints being made with state liquor agents. Though Shelton Brothers claimed no wrongdoing, Total Wine stores had to hold an impromptu sale of Westvleteren XII boxes ahead of the official 12/12/12 date in order to avoid issues (and what some close to the situation described as harassment).
In North Carolina, where there has been some controversy around Shelton Brothers this year (another story in itself), stores and bars were especially vocal on social media. NPR even captured one on those tweets in its article following the XII sale:
More Westy nonsense… in Alabama, Westvleteren is being sold by PIGGLY WIGGLY. Good lord. This beer belongs in specialty shops. Period.
— Bruisin' Ales (@bruisinales) December 12, 2012
On the other side of that tweet is Heather Blissard who runs the beer department at that particular Piggly Wiggly location in Alabama.
Shelton Brothers ran with it and made much of the most recent ‘High and Mighty Beer Show’ podcast episode about retail complaints from those who didn’t get Westvleteren XII. They even opened the show with the Piggly Wiggly jingle and brought Blissard on the air to chat about the situation. She said that she and Bruisin’ Ales have buried the hatchet.
There is a lot more to the story (which will probably surface over the next month) but the gist of Shelton Brothers’ side is that it was an incredible logistical challenge to pull off (selling 15,000 bricks on the same day across the U.S.) and they did the best that they could, knowing that they couldn’t please everyone due to supply of the bricks being drastically lower than the sky-high demand.
Also appearing on this fun-filled episode in the form of their complaints being read on the air is Tyler of Tyler’s Taproom and ‘Minx Staff.’
Download the full 30-minute episode.