Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Black, White and Grey

I think everyone's tired of hearing about the rights and wrongs of official and unofficial importing. So here's a change of tack: pricing.

Of course I'm not remotely neutral here, but I have to say I'm surprised by how stark the differences are. Here are some comparative prices gleaned from the internet and a trip to Thorndon New World. And if it isn't clear, the prices on the right are for the "official" imports:

Thorndon New World

The Beer Store

Regional Wines and Spirits

The Cult Beer Store

Green Flash Imperial IPA 650ml




Green Flash Le Freak 650ml



Green Flash West Coast IPA 355ml



Ballast Point Big Eye IPA 650ml



Bear Republic Hop Rod Rye 650ml




  1. Ah hah! The way to end the debate is definitely via the mechanism of "the wallet". :)

    Nice one Dom.

  2. We wouldnt even have one listing here to be compared had we known when we placed our last order that you were importing Green Flash.

  3. In the interest of objectivity, I'd like to see the prices of the official imports at New World Island Bay in this comparison. I would assume they are they same, or, very similar to Cult Beer Store? If not, then Cult Beer Store is working on lower margins as they are importer/wholesaler/retailer rather than a retailer buying off the importer/wholesaler.

    However, in saying that, this has been my argument from day one. Grey imports, for want of a better term, will never be able to compete with imports direct from the official source as there is always at least one extra middleman involved.

    And the Racer 5 i had from Island Bay last week was fuckin' awesome.

  4. So, seeing as you are the "official" NZ distributor for the breweries listed above (although, that in itself is incorrect, as you are acting as an agent for innspire - Aus) then why are you not offering trade pricing to your competitors? After all, isn't that what an "Official Distributor" is meant to do? Distribute, instead of posting some contrite comparison chart? Just curious.

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  6. Actually this deserves a fuller answer. Innspire are but one offshore ally that we trade with, so your attempted slur is a bit wide of the mark, particularly as none of the breweries named above are part of Innspire's portfolio. Which suggests that you're repeating something that someone poorly informed has told you. And God knows what you meant by contrite.

    Now for the record, we are actively marketing our products to wholesale customers and already sell to some who are very much competitors. It's a pity if someone you buy from hasn't heard of us or chooses to use a more expensive supplier.

  7. By "Offical Importer" you mean acting as an agent for Nagano Trading Co? I couldn't find you listed as an "Offical Importer" on Green Flash, Ballast Point or Bear Republic sites?

    Still curious....

  8. I take it back - your comments don't deserve a fuller answer.

  9. Oh fuck it stig, you don't deserve it but I'll explain some things to you. If we have allies who know and trust us and also have a trading history with brewers and we get those allies to facilitate trade for us; and if the brewers are happy to trade with us because our practices meet their requirements and we aren't going behind their backs then that makes us smart, not somehow devious like you seem to be insinuating.

    Isn't this better than ignoring clearly stated requests from brewers NOT to acquire and re-sell their products using parties and practices that they expressly disapprove of?

  10. I stumbled upon this and it is an interesting debate. Sorry STiG, I can't agree with you.

    1. Distributor have a right to do whatever ever they want with beer. I am close to numerous beer importers (not in NZ and I don't work in the beer industry) and they all selectively choose who they sell to, as demand for their products outstrips supply. To argue "why are you not offering trade pricing to your competitors? After all, isn't that what an "Official Distributor" is meant to do? Distribute, instead of posting some contrite comparison chart? Just curious." is implying that as an importer, Dominic or whomever, needs to specifically sell to specific people at a specific price. FUCK THAT! I've never been to NZ, but assume it is not some pristine Communist hellhole at the end of the earth. I assume it is very much like other Western countries it operate more or less on free market principals. IF Dominic is importing this beer, why can't he do with it what he wants and sell it at a price he wants? Should all the beer stores sell their beer at the same price and everyone work on exactly the same margin? Ludicrous. I abhor such price fixing practice!!!!

    2. Yes, it is a bit odd that the breweries don't have information listed for NZ, but I wouldn't take information about distribution lists on beer websites, anywhere in the world, to be 100% updated at all time - if the people making beer acted like that, beer probably be a lot less fun and taste a lot less interesting :). I see that more as a mute point.

    My opinion may not account for alot, but I am a strong supporter of free markets and capitalism.


  11. I was alerted (not by Dominic but a mutual friend) to questions being raised about Dominic's official importing. Let me help clear his name. The beers from Green Flash Brewing Co., Ballast Point Brewing Co., Coronado Brewing Co., and Bear Republic Brewing Co. were all done with the brewers knowledge, consent and appreciation for Dominic's efforts to advance craft beer. What does that mean? It means that every drop of the U.S. craft beer from those brewers was picked-up at the brewery cold, ocean shipped cold container directly to NZ and is now are being stored cold. Why is Dominic going to all this trouble? That what it takes to officially import. Dominic is the official importer for those beers. Dominic unlike any other importer in NZ (that is offering these brands of beer) has threaded the needle and done what a great businessman does, he finds a way to get what others can’t get officially and offers a superior product. No way any grey market beer purchased through a retail / wholesale operation in the USA will come close to the quality of the beers he has. Dry importing over the equator gives live beer free pasteurization. If you want to drink cooked beer then take a crack at the grey market brew and enjoy the meager savings. So my suggestion is to enjoy the fact you can taste these world class “cult” beers as the only other way to get them this fresh is to fly to California. When you mention Nagano Trading that is not a blemish on his record… it’s a bonus. Cheers- Dominic and stick to your guns brother! Andrew M. Balmuth, President of Nagano Trading Co., Ltd