News & Updates

Beer on Showcase Minnesota

So I guess I got my wires crossed. Alvey from The Four Firkins was slated to talk about beer on Showcase Minnesota on KARE-11 this morning. You can click here to watch the video.

I didn’t see the piece, but as it would turn out you could have tuned into Twin Cities Live today at 3pm for a piece on beer! Apparently you can also watch the replay at 8:00 on 45.


  1. mike says:

    I believe the show is also rerun at 8:00 PM on CH 45. If you can’t catch the show at 3.

  2. James says:

    I am sorry, but what is with the love obsession with this Alvey gentleman? I stopped into his shop and was not only underwhelmed (understatement) by the selection, but unimpressed by the service. I have stopped at Heritage in Maplewood, Blue Max in Burnsville, and U.S. Liquor in Minnetonka since moving here from Oregon, and I have to say they all blow Four Firkins out of the water in service and selection and price. Coming from a market where stores like Four Firkins are a necessity, due to grocery store and gas station beer and wine sales. I can say first hand this store would struggle against the stores it is modeled after mightily! I love the fact that I can pick up a nice Bordeaux, Russian River Pinot Noir, or Italian Barolo, as well as a fine single malt when I buy my beer, without multiple stops. Call me crazy, and maybe Alvey is God’s gift to beer, but I fail to see it. The gentleman at Blue Max (Jim I believe) seemed to know more than him by leaps and bounds.

  3. chad says:

    You can’t really leave a comment like that and expect to be taken seriously without detailing your expexperience at Alvey’s store. What kind of service are you expecting when you go in to buy beer? Want the beer guy to hold your hand while you hem and haw about what to purchase?

    I don’t think there is an unreasonable amount of adoration for Alvey(adoration isn’t quite the word I’m looking for, I guess), but maybe it has to do with the fact that he’s been part of the local beer community for the past few years, and people flat out like the guy, not even speaking on the knowledge of beer-peddling geeks at other stores.

  4. James says:

    I have seen Alvey now at a few events, and the first time I introduced myself, he all but blew me off. The first visit to the store I was greeted, and then summarily ignored while what seemed to be another staff member and a familiar customer to the two chatted the whole time. I don’t need my hand held while shopping, nor would I want that, but some effort would have been appreciated. In the five months I have lived here, all I have seen is free Four Firkins pub, while the other stores of the area, who are working just as hard to provide the consumers with high end beer have not been mentioned once. Every TV spot with a “beer expert”, every magazine with a beer feature. Just my observations, and I saw a lot of this in my time in Seattle with Bottleworks, the difference was, they were truly the only ones who gave a damn about beer at the time. If I were a retailer at a craft beer store in the metro I would be pissed. They all take the high road, as I would assume they have to when asked, but I would imagine this has to get to them. especially the ones that have been supplying consumer for more than a year.

  5. Good show! Like I’ve said elsewhere, I’m glad to see more attention being shown on craft beer in Minnesota. I see this as a rising tide floats all boats situation.

    @James, Possibly the reason Alvey is being tapped as a beer expert is because he is putting his face out there. I’ve seen Alvey at numerous beer events and I follow the Four Firkins on Twitter. I’ve maybe once seen another liquor store owner at a beer event. Granted, I don’t know who these owners are but maybe that’s because they are not putting themselves out there.

    @Liquor Store owners – Are you on Twitter? What about Facebook? Do you regularly update your website? Do you have a website? Are you making it easy for the media and your customers to find and follow you?

    I (well, my wife, really) has been to the Four Firkins to purchase beer on several occasions solely because Alvey announced the arrival of a new beer via Twitter.

  6. James says:

    Maybe the reason you don’t know the faces of other owners is because they aren’t being ruthlessly pimped. I have seen numerous store owners out and about ( I won’t say names because I was asked not to, after some owners saw this thread), but the Star Tribune, Pioneer Press, City Pages, etc, aren’t banging down their door for interviews, even though a Four Firkins doesn’t exist without others efforts over the last 10-12 years.

  7. Ben says:

    Maybe people know Alvey because he’s on slamming other liquor stores and saying untrue things like others don’t carry fresh product and other liquor stores don’t care about beer they just care about money. That was really uncool.

    I see other liquor store beer buyers and employees at countless more events then Alvey.

  8. Jonny says:

    What is all the fuss about?

    Alvey has gone very far out on a limb with his business plan (didn’t you folks get the memo from Brad?) and deserves to be successful for championing quality beer.

    If he happens to be enjoying the lion’s share of media attention so be it, and frankly I don’t see other owner/proprietors making the effort to get the media’s attention — full page ads for Fat Tire aside.

  9. Sean says:

    James, I know if you email or stop by and talk to him, Alvey would want to hear about your experience.

    Alvey has made himself stand out. He made a statement by opening a craft beer specific store. Naturally, he is going to get people asking him to talk about it.

    What other liquor stores do beer events as often as the Four Firkins? No one. Not even close. If they care so much about beer like you say, which I don’t doubt, shouldn’t they be doing things like having breweries or importers come in to talk about and sample their products?

    But that last statement, about him not going to every beer event, implying he doesn’t care, was out of line. I know he tries to go as often as he can- but he has responisibilities, like working at his store, which have to come first.

  10. Ben says:

    Sean: Other liquor stores do have samplings with distributors and brewers. You just don’t see it get the same mention here on MNBeer as often for whatever reason.

  11. @Ben, Back up your allegations regarding Alvey by providing citations, that is, links to those alleged statements of his. Otherwise, stop your trolling.

    @James, “[others] aren’t being ruthlessly pimped” What conspiracy are you trying to promote? If your issue is with who the media is focusing on, then get on the case of the media.

  12. @Ben, Are they contacting Ryan or any of the other contributors at MNBeer?

    Like I asked above, what are the other liquor store owners doing to reach out to the media and their customers?

  13. Trav says:

    It would be nice if other stores like D. Bros were on twitter and the like. It’s so quick and easy to do updates on there, why wouldnt you do it?

  14. Ben says:

    Scott: No problem. Here’s the thread. It does require a BeerAdvocate account but I can copy and paste some of it. As one might imagine, those also in the industry didn’t take kindly to his comments about the freshness of their product or their lack of passion for beer. I know there were a number of others that were offended by these comments but chose not to voice their opinions publicly.

    “Even though we are a tiny store we sell more craft beer than many of the big liquor stores in town, that means FRESH beer.

    Ask yourself, do you want FRESH beer?”

    “If you don’t care about these things then that’s fine, do you think Jim Surdyk actually cares what beers you like? No he doesn’t”

  15. Bill says:

    @Trav. I will tell you why I don’t twitter,
    9:00 am: Oh here comes a wine salesman, time to drink
    9:43 am: Oh you have a sample of a new vodka, of course I will try it
    11:00 am: Here is my hohensteins rep…I would love to taste the new Southern Tier
    noon: My Hohensteins rep is still here. I have had lagunitas, but lets try it again.
    1:00: Here comes my JJ rep. Oh, you know my hohensteins rep. Ok lets try new things and I will open up something I get from Dahlheimer.
    My twitter would just remind me how much I drink. Just kidding. I have never used twitter, maybe I should look in to it.

  16. @Ben, Thanks for the link. I had searched for it before but, without knowing what I should be looking for, I came up with a lot of useless results.

    I agree it was inappropriate of Alvey to say what he did regarding Jim Surdyk.

    I wonder how many people who hold Alvey’s words against him have themselves said something similar?

  17. James says:

    “But that last statement, about him not going to every beer event, implying he doesn’t care, was out of line. I know he tries to go as often as he can- but he has responisibilities, like working at his store, which have to come first.”

    I never said he doesn’t attend. That was elsewhere. As for the beer tastings, many people are on par with him. It is more the idea that he comes out and says “MN’s only specialty beer store”, when he wouldn’t exist without other “specialty beer stores pioneering the way. Call it MN’s only beer exclusive or something along those lines.

    As for the mention of the business plan. I am not sure I know who Brad is, but why does opening a store with a risky and questionable business model deserve blind support and unlimited loyalty? I love jazz and classical music. If I open a Jazz and classical music only store, should all fans of that genre of music support only me, even if they like other music as well, and can find the same music and more within the genre, excluding one or two underground, albums cheaper elsewhere?

  18. Mag says:

    As much as we’d like to have a finger in every pie, so to speak, it’s challenging to stay on top of all the beer news, events, goings-on, etc. I think I can speak for the folks contributing to this site when I say we don’t conciously promote one beer/brewery/store over another. If there is a seeming imbalance of content, it is probably due to how much information we get, how frequently we get it, our relationships, etc. and not about any design or any grand machination on our part. Some folks/companies do a better job providing their information via their website, in e-mails, etc. than others and those will tend to have a bit more of a presence here.

    I, for one, would welcome leads, referrals, news, etc. from anyone that can be posted. I’m sure Ryan, Kris, Eric, Kat and Jeff would appreciate this as well. If you feel X is under-represented, help us out. The squeaky wheel gets the grease.

  19. Darren says:

    @James, I think that quote from @Sean was directed at @Ben.

    What liquor store do you work for?

  20. Jason says:

    I agree it was inappropriate of Alvey to say what he did regarding Jim Surdyk.

    I wonder how many people who hold Alvey’s words against him have themselves said something similar?

    Wow, give the guy a pass why don’t you.

  21. @Jason, It is appropriate to call a person on something they recently said. It is at an entirely different level to hold it against them 10 months later.

  22. dbrewing says:

    This Alvey guy sounds like a real asshole. Why doesn’t he get with the program
    and start taking kickbacks and selling shitting beer? How dare he defame the name
    of all mighty Surdyck’s ?

  23. ryan says:

    Regarding who gets press with MNBeer, here’s how it works… we actively seek out information from breweries, brewpubs, stores and bars that offer good beer. We subscribe to mailing lists and try to watch websites but more than anything, we rely on emails from the breweries, brewpubs, bars, stores, etc. By all means, if you want to be on MNBeer (and you’re pushing craft beer, not swill), email us!

    I think the element that is getting missed here is that the places which often get complaints for getting “all of the attention” are places that effectively market themselves. Surly is another example of a company that some people complain about because they get so much attention. They may not be the only game in town, and they certainly weren’t first, but they sell a great product and have created a solid buzz.

    Couple all of this with a writer who is working under a deadline and isn’t a beer geek like all of us and I can’t say I’m surprised that someone such as Alvey or Omar might get the call for an interview. Regardless of the notion that other places sell specialty beers, if I’m a reporter and I want to write about craft beer and don’t necessarily know a lot about craft beer, who would I call, the guy who has created a store dedicated to beer or a guy that works at XYZ Liquors? Making the choice to call Alvey isn’t necessarily the right one (maybe it is, maybe it isn’t), but it sounds credible, engaging (What?! There’s a store devoted to beer?) and interesting.

    The average Joe watching television doesn’t geek out over beer, doesn’t really care how many times Alvey has gotten press and really doesn’t care who “paved the way” for a place such as The Four Firkins.

    Plain and simple, a lot of this comes down to marketing. Sure, you have to offer up a good product or service, but even the best products can be passed over if nobody knows about it. My advice for people who might feel left out of the limelight? Market yourself. Find a niche and take advantage of it. Make use of all of your free resources. Get on the web. Send updates to MNBeer. Take advantage of services like Twitter, Facebook, etc. Talk to people, talk to people, talk to people! And then talk some more!

    As for regrettable Beer Advocate comments, aside from the Surdyk’s remark, I read them more as an indictment of places that don’t particularly care about craft beer… places where a dusty six-pack of last summer’s kolsch sits on the shelf nearly a year later, and not places like Princeton’s or Heritage, Dennis Brothers, etc. That being said, let he who has never said anything dumb on Beer Advocate throw the first stone. Anyone? Anyone? I didn’t think so…

    Play nice. Thread’s closed.

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