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Thanks,The Beer Hawk Team.
So recently we got into a barney with one of our suppliers...that word supplier rather than brewery is important here as we've no quibble with the brewery it's just that they aren't the supplier of their own product. Instead they have chosen to grant sole import rights to one company rather than deliver direct which has created the little drama we've had this week.
The brewery in question is Birrificio Italiano, a very exciting Italian brewery near Milan producing fantastic beer. They have unfortunately made the choice to go down this importer route rather than delivering direct to outlets like ourselves. Unless done really well, this extra distance from the end consumer make the product more expensive and causes quality issues - the extra middleman adds a link in the chain making the beer more expensive and you need a supplier with a very slick supply chain to hurry your beer through.
This latter problem is exacerbated if, like Birrificio Italiano you recommend that your beer is drunk fresh, and fresh usually means best before dates are about 6 months. The masters of slick international supply are Stone Brewing in the US. They do use a distributor and slap a 4 month best before date on but have such a silky delivery system they get beer all the way to Britain from California ...by boat....and then onto us in less than 6 weeks. Birrificio on the other hand have chosen an importer with a supply chain at the opposite end of the spectrum. Their delivery schedule seems to go something like
1. Get beer delivered to UK depot.
2. Leave beer in importer's depot for up to 5 months
3. Deliver to retailer with 3 weeks left on the BBE dates
...and that's a particularly big issue if people are buying Christmas presents so the end drinker doesn't get the beer straight away from them either....3 weeks just aint enough!
So we'd love to have Birrificio Italiano beer in again but until this quality control issue can be solved (probably by changing importer!) we simply won't, and unfortunately we're left waving goodbye to a product we loved.