Monday, 12 April 2010

Man Makes Living By Selling Beer

I'm not sure how this is going to work, but I thought I'd give it a go. Most people know that I manage Beer-Ritz in Headingley, Leeds (it says so in my "About Me" bit over there on the left). Well, it seems that a lot of people don't know that Beer-Ritz also runs a mail order service at

The mail-order service doesn't run from the shop, it runs from our warehouse near Wetherby. In an attempt to publicise it, they've asked me to select some mixed cases from breweries that I like, do some tasting videos about them, and see if we can add something to the online shopping experience in the process.

From my point of view, it's fun, because I get to do more of what I enjoy - tasting beer, and writing and talking about it. In fact, it's better than fun, because (smugness alert) I actually get paid to do what I enjoy. From my employer's point of view, it adds a point of difference to their online shop, potentially driving trade, and maybe for their customers, it allows them to make a more informed decision about the beers they buy.

I'm not going to endorse any beers that I don't personally enjoy, because that would be stupid, and would cost a lot more than they can afford would ruin any independent credibility I have. But I'd be interested in hearing what you, dear reader, think about it. You can have a look at what I've been doing here - or search for "zak" in the search box at the top of the page. Does it add value (without adding cost)? Will it help people make a decision? For the less beer-savvy, will it help point out good quality beers, or is it just more me-me-look-at-me nonsense on my part? More to the point, when we put mixed cases of Marble 50cl bottles on the site in a couple of weeks, will you break the internet trying to buy some? Will you read their blog that we've started, and I'm maintaining?


  1. I think it's great Zak, especially after reading that you won't endorse any beers you aren't keen on.

    The video side to the beers is a nice touch, helps people find out a bit more about the beer and will probably help them choose an ale they like.

    As for being able to buy on the site, i think it's gotta be a good thing, especially for those of us who don't have a decent bottle shop near by....and yes I will break the site when you put the marble on there...providing my MOT doesn't break my bank first!!

  2. I think the mixed packs and videos are great, and as long as you personally like them then it can only be a good thing.

    I for one though won't be busting the internet for the Marble pack - not that I don't like them as I love them - it's just that my local deli in Ormskirk stocks the full delicious range... ;)

  3. Sounds like a good idea to me. Being a sad git, my usual beer at home routine goes something like: 1) Spend ages picking which beer to drink, 2) Spend ages smelling said beer and picking out aromas, 3) Spend ages tasting said beer and picking out flavours, 4) Search ratebeer, youtube etc to find out what other people thought of said beer, 5) Write about it.

    Your video blogs would fit nicely in around step 4 methinks.

    Like Andy says, knowing that you genuinely rate the beer as good makes a difference too.

    One final comment on the whole shop, could you introduce variable postage costs? This is something I've asked of brewdog James, it puts me off buying one or two bottles when the postage is more expensive than the beer. Is it possible to have one rate for 1-5 bottles, another for 5-10, another .... you get the idea. One flat rate - whether you buy 1 or 100 bottles - doesn't make sense.


  4. Is it me or has Samuel Adams replaced the Brazilian flag?
    I like the Brazilian flag, it has a disco ball on it.

    Good idea about the "Zak Pack"s (surely that's what they should be named?!) Enjoyed Gamekeeper, have many more to try.

  5. Andy - thanks for your vote of confidence, although you should also bear in mind my love of ordinary brown beer when watching the vids!

    Baron - thanks, and as I say, I'm only going to select beers I like, although of course I do have broad tastes.

    Chunk - thanks for the comment. Without going into too much detail, logistically it's a nightmare having scaled postage, especially when you factor in different bottle sizes, which impacts on weight. Put simply, the profit on 1 or 2 bottles of beer isn't enought to pay someone to pick and pack it, even if it is fairly expensive beer. To do that effectively, you'd have to introduce scaled pricing dependent on value/size of purchase.

    Matt - pleased you enjoyed the Gamekeeper - I think Wensleydale are a great and under-rated brewery.

  6. I heard the story about the Highland brew kit a few years ago and believe they ended up with the old Elsecar Brewery kit.

  7. Zak, nowt wrong with ordinary brown beer - sometime you don't wanna be challenged or blow a way you just want something tasty and beery....

  8. Zak, yeah Rob's tried more Wensleydale than I have and he has yet to try a bad one.
    Gamekeepers stood out over a batch of beers we tried from various breweries. Looking forward to some more!

  9. Thats something we have been working towards. I think its great.

  10. I'd buy a "Zak Pack" or hint at getting one for a birthday, Selection of various bottles of pong, an official Zak Avery branded wine glass, copy of the book. It'd be the ideal gift for Zak fans like me. Any Zak T-shirts in this shop?

  11. Cookie - it's a lovely idea, but sadly the fan worship will have to stop at recommendations, and BUYING MY BOOK.

  12. if he wont do it we will just have to make our own t-shirts


Sorry about the word verification - the blog was getting spammed to bits.