Thursday, January 22, 2009

It doesn't always happen

For the amount of space they give it – think mid-size supermarket and half the dairy case – Whole Foods in Middletown/Red Bank (Monmouth County) does a stellar job of stocking craft beer and imports (lots of Belgian brews).

That you can buy beer and groceries under one roof and through a single checkout lane is great unto itself. Not to mention, it underscores the union of quality beers and good foods. (Alas, the closest Whole Foods to us is Marlton/Cherry Hill area, and they don’t sell wines and beers. That makes the spin up the Garden State Parkway to Middletown, about 20 minutes longer than Marlton, more worth while.)

And here's the thing: Whole Foods, as is their part of their mission, highlights products with local ties. Beer included, in this case River Horse and Flying Fish (wish they carried Cricket Hill, Climax and Ramstein, too). They also pointed out New York brewers (i.e. Brooklyn, Southern Tier and Blue Point) and Pennsylvania beers. A nice, logical radius, there.

Maybe it doesn’t seem like a big deal that a beer retailer would steer you to the local brews , but you can’t always count on it. Even at the stores that have aisle upon aisle of brews, shelves flagged with Rate Beer scores and staff who’ve tried practically everything they sell. It just doesn’t always happen.

So way to go, Whole Foods. (Now just move that “seasonal” sign away from the Hopfish or put a true seasonal there in its place.)