Thursday, November 3, 2011

Opening a Wine, Beer, and Spirits Shop

I posted a few weeks ago somewhat about my transition from working for the devil to being asked to come on and help open a new shop specializing in unique wine, beers, and spirits. This won't go fully in depth into the whole opening process, more of the planning and "opening" side rather than the monetary/legal side as I am not the owner and I am just on payroll like anyone else. I just want to share the experience of opening up something special.

In the beginning of August this year I quit my old discount liquor store job knowing that in a few short weeks I would be hired on to run a smaller more upscale boutique liquor store. There was something about choosing to leave running 26 beer doors and a walk in to run a shop with 6 beers doors. Without going in specifics it was becoming so miserable with the new boss that I knew I wouldn't ever regret it. 
About mid August we started planning out the layout of the store. The location had previously been a Liquor store but it was old and out dated and the inside needed to be gutted. Everything from the floors to the ceiling was replaced. 

The old Beer/Wine cooler was the only thing that was kept the same, although only having 6 beer doors there is a good sized walk in behind the cooler shelves that allow space for a huge amount of bomber beer which I was very excited about. This is a more upscale area and it caters to more unique finds. I do not have any Busch, Keystone, Colt 45, etc. A few BMC facings and that's about the lowest I go.

Luckily I had been in the business before, well obviously I probably wouldn't have gotten the job if I hadn't, but I already knew the ins, outs, and what have yous. Meg (Wine/Liquor) and myself (Beer/Liquor) set up our office at a table outside the Starbucks and started contacting distributor reps to decide our opening orders. For the next few weeks we talked to reps, looked over item/price lists, and tasted a ton of wine. Some days all we did was taste wine. One of the perks of this industry is that in order to sell the buyer a product you pretty much need to know about what you are buying for the store. Reps come in, you bust out the glasses and get down to business. On the beer side of things it's even better, instead of just a little pour the reps bring in whole bottles and I can take them home and drink the whole thing. That's the thing about beer, you have to be able to swallow the whole taste to get an idea and I am happy to take home anything and try it once!

After thoroughly doing the "research" we got down to business making up our opening orders. We decided what was right and what was wrong to have in the store and adhered to the budget constraints of filling the store but not over filling for the slower first few months of business. The waiting game was a head of us for the racks, registers, and all the other odds and ends to arrive and to get put in there proper places. We ordered custom wine racks and they arrived in pieces, luckily the contractor was still around to help us assemble them as Meg and I could have probably succeeded in doing it but it would have taken us a month rather than 3 days. The next set of pictures shows the three days of assembly. 

We had a few days for a breather and then after the long labor day weekend it was back to business finishing up and trying to get open. We had to wait around for the computer guys to install our components and software. When we knew it was time to set some delivery dates we went ahead and had our reps punch the opening orders and then it was go time. This wasn't my first store opening so I was prepared for the work to come. Luckily in this business most suppliers will come in and help you do the dirty work of getting things on the shelves. Obviously they want to get their products in the most shopped areas on racks and so forth.

As you can see I had my dog Ellie help out in the process.

After getting the store set, obviously with a few set backs and other issues which don't need mentioning as any start up business has it's share of issues we were faced with the most daunting task...It was time to enter all of the new product into the POS system. Yes that's right, we had to enter all 1000+ facings into the computer system so we could ring up and do all those fancy things like sell product. This took us about 3-4 14 hour days but we did it and we were ready to open.

So I must say, this was the short, short, short version of opening up a shop, I guess I should add a disclaimer that there is A LOT more that goes into it and this shouldn't be used as a template. I just wanted to share some of the experience. So then of course I must "plug" the store. Anyone in the Denver area come in and say hi! You can find the address, phone, etc from the links below. Check us out at:

Cherry Hills Wine Shop Website

Cherry Hills Wine Shop Blog



Yelp Listing

Monday, October 10, 2011

Beer Review: Rogue Brewing John John Juniper Pale Ale

Barrel aged Food Pairing: Pork, Hot & Spicy

Tasting Notes:
A hint of cucumber and a Sprucey note in the aroma followed by a Juniper bite mid palate finishing with a soft oakiness.
11 Ingredients:
Harrington, Crystal, Triumph, C-15 & Rogue Micro Barley Farm Dare™ malts.
Styrian, Golding, Amarillo & Rogue Hopyard Willamette hops.Juniper

Berries Pacman Yeast & Free Range Coastal Water.


34 IBU

77 AA
3.2º Lovibond

Appearance: Pours a hazy gold with a very small amount of head. Slight white ring around the glass.

Aroma: Sweet citrus fruits like orange and tangerine. A slight pale malt and a hint of ginger ends it out. As the beer warms a bit of juniper/pine comes out of the aroma.

Flavor: Great up front balanced bitterness strong on the grapefruit. Hints of caramel and nuts fill the middle leading into a piney goodness that ends pretty soft.
Mouthfeel: Very smooth, medium body with medium carbonation.

Overall: This is my first time trying this and I  must say it is spectacular. I am not huge on the juniper usually but I thought it complimented a great pale ale very well. What I liked most is what the spruce barrels brought to the picture. The end pineyness always goes well with American hops. hops. The additions are not too over the top however, and it is not like you are sipping on a bottle of gin. The pale ale component is well balanced and has the right amount of malt and hops. I give this one an A.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

The Perks of the Job

So as some of you know, or that have been following know, that I pretty much took my passion for something and made it into a job. For those of you that don't, about a year and a half ago I started this blog while I was sitting in a cubicle at a finance company in downtown Denver. I was so sick and tired of going into work and staring at a computer screen doing something that wasn't interesting or anything near amusing in any way. I decided to take a chance, (and a paycut) to take on a job at a larger format liquor store in the beer department. In a little over 4 months I was promoted to Beer Manager and our store moved to a new location where I was able to manage 26 beer doors and a walk in beer cooler. I was flying high, I got to go to work and talk about beer all day!

All of a sudden the GMs that hired me quit to persue other ventures and the new guy came in. I would call him Lucifer but that would be too nice. Being the owners brother there was really nothing I could do to change the situation. The man took away everything fun about working in this industry. No more tastings, no more events, no more handselling, and no more fun. I was starting to regret taking the pay cut.

But then ALAS light at the end of the tunnel. A former co-worker at my store, that "Imperial Lucifer" had pretty much hired to fire, called me up and asked if I wanted to run a new smaller scale upperclass liquor store. More money and benefits now? Sign me up!
So where am I going with all this? Well after about a month or so of doing everything there is to do to open up a store (I will have a post on this at some point in the near future) we opened and my brewery representatives started coming in. As beer geeks should know the Great American Beer Festival is held right here in Denver, Colorado. Oskar Blues Brewery was putting on an event and being in the position that I am in, I was invited to take part in this amazing ride. Camera crews were present for the local news/magazine and captured our drunken escapades. Check it out:

Here is another article from Metromix with a slideshow:

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Great find: Buying a Chick a Beer

Isn't it every guy beer geek's ultimate woman if she can slang them back with the best of em? Or even better if she goes up to the bartender and orders a Maharaja IIPA or an Old Rasputin Imperial Stout, hell it doesn't even have to be an imperial just anything that doesn't have a TV sized marketing budget...

Well I came across this lovely little number with some good tips on taking that first step....ENJOY!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Beer Review: Plank Dunkler Weizenbock

yes, tis true people I am's been a good while but now with a new job its time to start putting some posts up again. Today I am posting about one of my favorite German Breweries distributed out here in lovely Colorado.

Plank Bier Dunkler Weizenbock

Appearance: Pours a clear brown with a fluffy off white head. Head retains at about 3 to 4 fingers.

Aroma: Very malt driven aroma with a lot of bread. Slight undertones of pepper, toast, and a slight nuttiness. Raisin and currant also present.

Flavor: Malty sweet up front leading to a bit of toast and pecan. The middle of the sip has a drying quality sweetness lingers throughout. A strong presence of bread covered in caramel. Dried fruit present but not over powering. Raisin and fig dominant in these dried fruit flavors.

Mouthfeel: Low carbonation with medium to high body. Very smooth beer. Glides over the tongue like silk.

Overall: An excellent beer; what I have come to expect from Michael Plank. Esters and phenols not present as you would expect from a german unfiltered wheat beer. This is a perfect beer for the fall as the leaves change and the temps start to drop.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Send Grant to Germany!

It's been a long time dream of mine to head to one of the brewing capitals of the world. I am planning a trip to Germany in early spring to discover the roots of brewing. My whole trip will be documented and posted on this blog. Alas though, this will be an extremely expensive trip, one that I will be asking friends and family to help me out with. If you would like to see this come to fruition I have created a donation link. Anything helps! I will post periodically about the trips progress! Thanks!