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Old 11-23-2011, 03:59 PM   #1
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Default Another reason why Michigan is a Great Beer State!

Because we complain that the Citgo Gas Station ONLY has FIVE doors of Craft Beer in it.

From the latest issue of Michigan Beer Guide.

Quote:
Gas And Beer At CITGO
-Rex Halfpenny

This unusual entry into the journals of Michigan Beer Guide began with an enthusiastic phone call we received. The caller was Ben Sandiha and he wanted Michigan Beer Guide to come down and check out his beer inventory. Our office receives more and more calls like this, often prompted by a reader visiting a well-stocked beer store or one of our distributor advertisers suggesting that the retailer get on the better beer radar by advertising in or at least carrying Michigan Beer Guide. So this call was not unusual, except for the fact that this venue was a gas station. When Ben invited us to visit his CITGO gas station in Clawson because he had a good beer inventory, that got our attention.

Gas and go is my usual routine. I rarely go inside unless I am on the road and need to pee. Even then it is not in my habit to shop, like I said, pay at the pump, gas and go. I mean really, what kind of beer do you find in a gas station? We had to find out. So we made an appointment to see Ben and talk about beer. It was a fun stop.

The first thing I did on our arrival at the corner of Rochester Road and 14 Mile was take a couple photos. Nothing-new here. A gas station, with a convenience store, and a Tubby’s. We walked in and guess what? It looked like every other gas station C-store.Cash register at the door, backed by cigarettes and lottery tickets, stocked to the brim with impulse purchase offerings and isles of the usual snacks, candies, and everyday merchandise so often sold as loss leaders by the major supermarket chains.

Behind the register were Ben and one of his employees. But before I sat down I went over to the wall of cooler doors. This is what I found: 25 cooler doors of which 2 were dairy, 6 miscellaneous beverages, 1 bottled water, 3 soda pop, 2 energy drinks, 4 mass market beers, 2 mixed and odd sizes and 5 doors dedicated to craft beer. Now put that way it sure does not sound all that exciting, but remember, this is a gas station and when was the last time you saw 5 doors of craft beer in a gas station, anywhere, let alone Michigan.

The next thing we did was count Michigan breweries, eighteen. There was definitely beer here that I would buy so I made the following quick short list: Bell’s Two Hearted, Shorts Huma Lupa Licious, Arcadia Whitsun, Dragonmead Final Absolution, Founders Dirty Bastard, New Holland Golden Cap, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout, Flying Dog Raging Bitch, Pauliner Salvator, and Unibroue La Fin Du Monde. And I have to add that there was a pretty varied selection of wines as well. At a gas station!

After viewing the beer selection we sat down with Ben next in the Tubby’s section in the back of the store to get his story. The first thing he asked was “What do you think about my beer selection?” At the risk of hurting his feelings, I said I expected more. From my perspective, five cooler doors of craft and imported beer out of 25 cooler doors are not that impressive. Ben was hurt, though more theatrical then reality. I explained that places with great beer selections, including the places advertising in Michigan Beer Guide have 400- 600 or more different beers. But that said, without a doubt, his was the best-stocked gas station or convenience store that I had ever visited in terms of high-end beer selection.

I recall when less than 10 years ago I could not get a c-store to even recognize Michigan had breweries. While I am sure today there are others out there with some craft beer in stock, I see Ben’s CITGO outlet as yet another sign of the times, times when craft beer, and specifically Michigan beer, can no longer be ignored. To ignore craft beer today is to ignore the rising demand for products that have a higher margin and thus greater profitability to the retailer. And what retailer does not want to make more money?

Ben is a young man who has seen craft beer in the marketplace all his life. It was not that long ago that most distributors would not even carry craft beer while today distributors are competing to carry them. But it still requires an owner to see the value and make the room to offer beer that is not supported by national advertising campaigns. Unfortunately, most still do not.

I asked Ben what he liked to drink and his answer surprised me, “Everything but motor oil.” At the time he was drinking a Nantucket Red Plum Nectar. He invited us to try anything we might desire from the cooler. I scanned the cooler of beverages and after a couple minutes selected another flavor of Nantucket juice (Orange Mango), noting that it was all natural fruit flavor with no HFCS or chemical additives. Using my experience as an example Ben said, “Everyone is different, so we have a wide a varied selection and we are family orientated. People come into our store but do not know what they want, they want something, they look, they find, and they buy.”

To that end the whole store was neat, bright, well stocked but not cramped. If you look around you will also notice Ben (on right in photo above) is a huge Detroit Lions fan, as also evidenced by his attire and décor .

Ben got into the business eight years ago when the existing Clark gas station went up for auction. His family put in a sealed bid and won the property. So dad officially owns the store, but Ben and his brothers run the operation. The original store was small, only a thousand square feet, so the family built it out and added the one stop shop. Today there are three Separate businesses run from the store, a gas station, a convenience store and a Tubby’s.

“We wanted to serve the community and needed all of this to do so. We love the community and we love our customers and neighbors,” said Ben with his ever-present infectious smile.

The Clawson CITGO today sells more craft beer than any other party store in the area except Red Wagon. “The others kill me on mass-market beer,” Ben added. By the way, all the craft and imported beer is kept in the cooler, only the mass-markets are on the floor.

They are located at 24 N Rochester Rd., Clawson, MI 48017-1742. (248) 733-1600

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Old 11-23-2011, 04:26 PM   #2
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And the HBT welcoming committee (Detroitish chapter) is good people!

Left to Right: Michelle, Bill, My wife Wi, the good reverend (Revvy), and myself

A huge thanks goes out to Revvy for reintroducing the wife and I to the Detroit we never knew! We look forward to many more visits in the future!

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Old 11-23-2011, 04:30 PM   #3
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So do you know when your next trip to our fair city will be?

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Old 11-23-2011, 04:34 PM   #4
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Isn't Citgo owned by the Venezuelan gov't, namely that gasbag Hugo Chavez? They guy HATES the US, and has backed that up with some nasty language. I'd never buy from Citgo.

(but I do like MI; spent many summers there on a lake)

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Old 11-23-2011, 04:41 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Revvy View Post
So do you know when your next trip to our fair city will be?
Probably sometime in January. Unless we hang out with the family around Christmas time then we will make it up sooner.

By the way, the wife and I had a chance to head out to the Cadieux Cafe last night for dinner and a couple of these...

...paired with some damn fine Belgian pork sausage and mash. Extra yum....

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...our fair city...
Was this a casual addition to the question or are you a Car Talk fan?
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Old 11-23-2011, 04:49 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by passedpawn View Post
Isn't Citgo owned by the Venezuelan gov't, namely that gasbag Hugo Chavez? They guy HATES the US, and has backed that up with some nasty language. I'd never buy from Citgo.

(but I do like MI; spent many summers there on a lake)
If it makes you feel any better, this is from Wikipedia:

'In October 2010, Hugo Chavez announced the intention to have Petróleos de Venezuela sell its Citgo subsidiary calling it a "bad business" and citing low profits since 2006. The minimum sale price was set at 10 billion US dollars; however, Petróleos de Venezuela has been unable to find a buyer at that price"

If you have 10 billion lying around, it can be all yours.
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Old 11-23-2011, 05:06 PM   #7
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Dragonmead was absolutely one of our favorite places to visit during our time in the Detroit area. What a menu of great beers.....wonderful stuff.

Left to Right: Myself, the good reverend (Revvy), a flight of Dragonmead excellence, and a sack of Lazybones Smokehouse BBQ

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Old 11-23-2011, 06:51 PM   #8
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Except Flying dog had to sue the "great" state of Michigan in order to be allowed to sell Raging Bitch there.

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Old 11-23-2011, 06:58 PM   #9
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Except Flying dog had to sue the "great" state of Michigan in order to be allowed to sell Raging Bitch there.
So??? That's a community standard's issue, it has nothing to do with Michigan's having a big beer culture. If I recall there were lots of places that didn't particularly like the name.

If there wasn't a market for craft beer in Michigan, they wouldn't have had a place to have to sue to sell it in would they? Do YOU have a citgo where you can walk in and get it?????
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I gotta tell ya, just between us girls, that Revvy is HOT. Very tall, gorgeous grey hair and a terrific smile. He's very good looking in person, with a charismatic personality... he drives like a ****ing maniac! - YooperBrew

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Old 11-23-2011, 07:03 PM   #10
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Except Flying dog had to sue the "great" state of Michigan in order to be allowed to sell Raging Bitch there.
Let's not turn this positive thread into a sad toxic wasteland. There are plenty of things that are piss poor with MI beer laws and it is not contained inside that state either!

I for one am happy to hear that a gas station has a nice beer selection of local brews. Near me that is one of my biggest complaints, plenty of craft beer, but not much for the small local guys in comparison (and we have LOTS of them... )
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