Cancelled: Firkins Horizon Red Sneak Peek

Flak from liquor stores and distributors has put the kibosh on the planned Apr. 13 roll-out of Summit Horizon Red Ale at The Four Firkins. The full walk-back:

Dear Summit Fans,

We have decided not to have a sneak peek of the new Horizon Red Ale at the Four Firkins on Monday, April 13.  We didn’t realize we would create such a stir by planning a soft release in advance of the official package beer release date of April 20.  Alvey at the Four Firkins had been expressing a strong interest in the new ale for some time and we didn’t see the harm in premiering it at his store.  After talking with other liquor stores and our distributors, we now understand we were wrong to make this assumption.  Alvey also does not want to create any riffs with his colleagues, so we have decided to postpone the sampling at his store to the evening of April 20.  Please accept our apologies.


Mark O. Stutrud

The beer will still be available Apr. 16 at the following locations, as per Carey Matthews at Summit:

Groveland Tap
Longfellow Grill
Edina Grill
Highland Grill
Grumpy’s NE
Muddy Pig

Courtesy of Summit Brewing
Courtesy of Summit Brewing


  1. Scott McGerik

    That is pathetic upon the part of the distributors and other liquor stores. Alvey’s store is so small that even with a 7 day lead, he would barely dent their long term sales and profits. Who are these complainers? I sure hope it is no one I shop at.

  2. ForbiddenDonut

    From what I heard, there were quite a few big local liquor stores that complained to JJ Taylor (distributor). In return, there was enough pressure put on Summit to politely cancel the soft release. The end result is that we all lose out on a week of buying a new beer early. Also, a small local beer store loses a very small spike in sales that they would get from people stopping by to pick up a six pack or two. Is it a big enough issue to warrant the hugh and cry from local retailers? I doubt it, but I’m sure they’ll justify, what seems to me to be, their very petulant behavior.

    I wonder why there isn’t the same problem with a pre-release at the above bars? Is it the difference of a few days, or the difference between on premise and off premise sales?

    Ultimately, this is a year round beer that has a lot of promise and will help Summit compete with the increasing number of West Coast style hopped up beers that have been entering the market. So I guess we all need to relax, and go out on the 16th to give Horizon a try.

  3. Foam

    Since I’ve been a fan Alvey since his WAT? days,and since he’s getting a little screwed by the big dogs here, I’m making it a point to pick up my Horizon Red from the Four Firkins. Awesome shop, awesome guy, awesome beer, hopefully an awesome ride on the greenway.

  4. Princtonian...

    Come on guys… put yourselves in the position of owning a store and working hard to earn market share or being a company that serves many (fairly). Yes… Alvey is extremely small. He doesn’t provide even a fraction of business to Summit that his bigger competitors do. How does he deserve to get perks that others have rightfully earned through both volume support and years of continued business and loyalty. Alvey has obviously offended a number of folks/entities. He should respectfully earn his place in the market. Then there will be no issues/questions. Finally, this is not about you. Put an investment up on the board like the aforementioned business have. Then you can speak from a position of understanding.

  5. Scott McGerik

    @Princtonian… “deserve”, “rightfully earned”, “earn his place” … your comment reeks of entitlement.

    “this is not about you” is obviously correct. It really is about the egos of the business owners who cried foul.

    I see special beer events occurring all the time at area bars. This brewery or that brewery releases a special beer at bar X. A week later, they release another special beer at a different bar. I might attend some of those events but it does not change my general habit of favoring particular bars over others.

    It would have been similar with regards to the Horizon Red Ale release at Four Firkens. I probably would not have gone. But if I had, I still would continue buying beer from my regular liquor stores. Simply put, I’m not going to forsake my regular liquor stores just because of a special release at some other liquor store.

    As I briefly mentioned in my previous comment, I hope none of the liquor stores I regularly shop at were one of the complainers. Because if they were, that is reason for me to shop elsewhere.

  6. ForbiddenDonut

    Overall, it’s pretty lame that a few large accounts can trump a decision that Summit made to do a soft release of their product by complaining to their distributor. It doesn’t matter what any store has done to support the “beer scene,” or whatever you want to call it. Likewise, it doesn’t matter how long a store has been in business or their volume of sales. Neither of those factors should allow them to interfere with an agreement made between a producer and a retailer. The distributor crossed a line, prompted by their larger clients.

    Lighten up Francis. A week’s early release doesn’t cut into the market share which you’ve earned through good service and longevity. I think this whole mess has to do with some things said elsewhere, to which Scott has already alluded.

  7. Princtonian...

    @ McJerk

    “your comment reeks of entitlement”

    The only entitlement here is your notion that you understand the dynamics at play. This guy is trying to do an “end-around” on everyone else and that is what has pissed the local industry off. From wholesalers to retailers to the producer as well for all of the negative publicity and damage control. Any supplier must treat their customers equally and fairly or problems will ensue. What do you not understand about this?

    It’s easy for you (with nothing at risk) to get on your high horse and have an empty opinion. I guarantee that if you owned either a wholesale operation or competing liquor store you would feel different. Your general habit of patronage has no bearing on this issue or point.

    End of statement.

  8. Princtonian...

    @ ForbiddenDonut

    “I think this whole mess has to do with some things said elsewhere…”

    Partially. His beratement of Surdyk’s in a post on Beer Advocate has cost Mr. Alvey a lot of respect in the local beer community. Customers like myself have frequented both stores over the past year. I will now not be back to do business with him.

    “The distributor crossed a line, prompted by their larger clients.”

    To a degree, I feel sorry for Summit and the damage control that they will have to go through. However unfortunate, they will have to face the music with the rest of their customers knowing that they played favorites. Not a savvy move when money spends anywhere. BTW… I would feel exactly the same if this occurred with Sam’s Club/Walmart (size does not matter). Ethically, you’ve got to treat everyone the right way – bottom line.

  9. Jason B

    I’ll admit I know the specifics of neither the thought process and maneuvering behind the decision to have a soft release of Red Horizon at the Firkins nor the drivers behind said decision (though it appears it may have been keyed by Alvey’s “strong interest” per Mr. Stutrud’s missive), but I’d hazard a guess that Summit did not need to be subjected to any arm-twisting. Two reasons: Firstly, Horizon is Summit’s foray into the ever-evolving field of style-warping über-hopped beers that are currently commanding massive attention from the craft beer enthusiast masses and secondly, as of current, you cannot deny that the Four Firkins enjoys and has earned the attention and devotion of a good portion of these masses and debuting Horizon there would have afforded it a level of cachet right off the bat that anyone debuting a new product would crave.

    Continuing down the pathway of perception (perhaps intersecting with reality, perhaps not), the acrimony shown and subsequent vitriolic insurrections of the distributors and liquor stores creates a veneer of jealousy, insecurity, fear and loathing. Collectively, they come of as petty and resentful crybaby swine as a result of this action. Scott picked up on that vibe. Forbidden Donut picked up on that vibe. I picked up on that vibe. Right or wrong, there it is, a portion of the potential p.r. fallout.

    However, I may be convinced that these actions are not the churlish scheming of brutish thugs in a market that smacks of protectionism and instead that said actions comprise a savvy retaliation designed to wrest back some of that deserved cachet that THEY have earned and remind both producers and consumers alike that they, too, have game in the craft beer world. Hell, I WANT to believe the latter, as the list of liquor stores that I frequent and appreciate is not inclusive solely of the Firkins.

    You know what’s not going to achieve that goal of convincing? The condescending argument that you must have “irons in the fire” to have a pertinent take on the matter. Of course our opinions would differ if we owned such an operation, but it wouldn’t have a lick of impartiality anymore! Princtonian, you have positied many good arguments here and have dropped a lot of knowledge, but the Warren Sapp-type gambit (“PUT ON A JERSEY! THEN YOU CAN HAVE AN OPINION”) is just dismissiveness masquerading as pertinence. We are the consumers; our opinions DO matter, our dollars follow our opinions and these opinions are driven in part by perception. But, they are also not static and can become increasingly informed. Please keep trying to mold them, but do not preemptively invalidate them.

  10. Scott McGerik

    @Princtonian “have an empty opinion”, “Your […] patronage has no bearing”, “Then you can speak from a position of understanding.” Your continuing dismissiveness towards consumers suggests the source of the problem. As Jason B said above, Summit picked up on consumer’s excitement regarding Four Firkens. Instead of going with players who can only cite their sales volume and length in the industry, Summit chose to go where the consumers wanted to be, namely, Four Firkens.

    Princtonian, assuming you are a liquor store owner, ask yourself what you can do to generate the consumer excitement like Alvey has done with the Four Firkens. If you can do that, then maybe you will be in the envious position of receiving special treatment from a brewery.

  11. Princtonian

    @ Jason B…

    “Of course our opinions would differ if we owned such an operation”

    Thank you… now we’re getting somewhere! This is the very point I’ve been trying to make. To admit the path of cause and effect as it relates with basic human nature brings about a greater understanding. As for the “impartiality” issues raised, all of the above perspectives except for mine have been leaning toward and/or in support of Alvey. Hell, one could make the arguement that his “supporters” are whining and crying in the same manner as the accused local beer industry/trade.

    “but the Warren Sapp-type gambit (”PUT ON A JERSEY! THEN YOU CAN HAVE AN OPINION”) is just dismissiveness masquerading as pertinence”

    How can one honestly understand a position unless he has “walked a mile in the other man’s shoes?” It’s so easy to sit in a concealed room behind the safety of a one-way computer extolling opinions on others (for better or worse in this increasingly sterile society). All I’m challenging these guys for is a degree of honesty and fairness. The real question is whether these guys can look at the issue around 360 degrees or will they continue to cling to opinions biased on either lack of thought or commitment to their good friend Alvey? After all, the narrower a man’s perspective, the broader are his views. Let’s see if they can rise to the challenge…

  12. Princtonian

    @ McGerik

    Here you go again. OMG… you’re lack of understanding is alarming. And BTW… I’m not dismissive of consumers – I am a consumer! Additionally, Summit didn’t seek him out and I know for a fact (all) consumers don’t want to be at 4 Firkins.

    Obviously you’re a huge fan of his store and that’s fine by me. What I’m surprised by is the fact that you won’t be fair and consider the perspectives of the other players involved. As Jason B said above, “Of course our opinions would differ if we owned such an operation.” That’s all I was looking for and I admire his honesty and integrity for expressing the thought.
    Can you do the same?

  13. Scott McGerik


    I can take the perspective of a business owner who as put time and money in a business. I see at least two ways such a business owner might react to Summit choosing Four Firkins. One is to believe, because of their sales volume and length in the industry, they have done enough whereas Alvey does not deserve it. But I don’t need to present that perspective as you have done it rather well.

    Another possible reaction to Summit choosing Four Firkins is to ask what more can I do to make my store an attractive venue for a beer rollout. Summit may not have sought out Alvey but they did choose Four Firkins over other stores. I’m not privy to Mark Stutrud’s thoughts but I suspect something about a soft release at Four Firkens appealed to him, something the other stores lacked.

  14. Bill Princeton

    Hey guys,
    I just wanted to make this clear, Princtonian has nothing to do with Princeton’s Liquors. Believe me, I don’t talk that smart and my messages would have an insane amount of spelling errors. A friend of mine on BA sent me a message alerting me to this forum saying someone thought “Princtonian” was me.
    Just wanted to let everyone know.

  15. Mark

    @David: I guess I may have wrongly guessed that Princetonian worked at or owned Princeton. If that is not the case, I’m wrong and sorry to make the assumption.

    @Scott gets to the core of things, I think. One could speculate that Summit was hoping to do something special that would garner some attention. Imagine people lined up out the door of a tiny beer store. Quite a photo op.

  16. Mark

    @Bill. I’m sorry to make that assumption. I apologize.

    Mods, if you can, delete my previous comment.

  17. Joe Haugen

    “The only entitlement here is your notion that you understand the dynamics at play. This guy is trying to do an “end-around” on everyone else and that is what has pissed the local industry off. From wholesalers to retailers to the producer as well for all of the negative publicity and damage control. Any supplier must treat their customers equally and fairly or problems will ensue. What do you not understand about this?”

    Just picturing Bill saying this is making me smile right now. You sound so smart Bill ;)

Comments are closed.