I stopped at Merchant’s Fine Wine in Dearborn a couple weeks back and briefly spoke to Annette May, The Beer Department Manager. She was so helpful in finding the beers I wanted, and let me split up a six pack so I could try some beers that looked interesting to me. I didn’t think of it at the time, but when I returned home, I thought – heck, this would make a great article for the blog! I emailed Merchant’s and the next day received a return email from Annette, letting me know she’d write something up for us. I was going to take her writing and turn it all into a story, but after I read it, decided to just post it as is. I think you’ll see, after reading this, just how friendly and amazing Merchant’s is. Thanks Annette for the great write up!
Merchant’s Fine Wine
22250 Michigan Ave
Dearborn, MI 48124
Hello. I’m Annette May, the Beer Department Manager at Merchant’s Fine Wine in Dearborn, MI. I truly believe that I run both the best and the biggest beer selection in Michigan. It’s huge, organized and well-maintained by myself and my assistant, Dan. I’ve been running the department for nearly three years, and came to this position after spending over 10 years working in the specialty beer business. Ever been to The Map Room in Chicago? I was the manager and beer buyer there from 1996-2000. And I left there to pursue the distribution side of the business firstly in Chicago and then here in Michigan. Now I’m here in Dearborn running a wonderful beer department where I’m utilizing all that knowledge and experience I’ve accumulated over the years. And it’s close to home…
I do all the beer purchasing based upon a number of factors… FIRSTLY, we do sell all the “major” brands; it’s a business after all, and these beers do generate profit for any business. Plus, I’m not going to turn away the person that wants a Duvel Ale for themselves but needs that Stroh’s or Bud for their dad or neighbour. We even carry Schlitz, Blatz and Pabst!
SECONDLY- Michigan beers. We’ve got such great microbreweries here. So why not start with them? The majority of beer styles (including some great Belgian styles!) are being brewed right here. We’ve got lagers, IPA’s, Barley Wines, Imperial Stouts, the list just keeps going…Many of these breweries produce seasonal beers and limited editions which always feature heavily.
THIRDLY- USA Craft breweries. I try to have something from every state, although there are some states that simply do not distribute here. Of those that do, I have at least one beer from every brewery that’s available here- and usually many more than one. I don’t like beer to not sell and grow old, hence I’ll try a particular brand from that brewery, and if it doesn’t sell well I’ll replace it with something else from the brewery. And seasonal beers also feature heavily. I don’t usually carry beers outside of their seasons- I like to get them in, feature them heavily, and sell while they are fresh. Any new specialty beers that a particular brewery has just released feature heavily. It’s one of my “manias”- I’ll contact the brewery or rep directly (I know many of them all around the country) and make sure that if the beer is limited in quantity that we get some here! Even if it means all of it!
FOURTHLY- Imports. Again- we just have to have all the big brands. But we specialize in bringing in some rarer things that might not be available in other stores. I’m always working with the importers and my distributors to bring in that special limited release Italian beer aged in a Barbera barrel, or that old rare Gueuze, or that bourbon barrel-aged Imperial Stout.
FIFTH Mead and cider! Got a bunch of both!
And kegs. If the keg is available we’ll get it for you. We’ll do the work to get the distributor to bring it in. I know every keg fitting out there and can help with obtaining these. And give advice on managing the dispensing.
I’ve never actually counted, but I’m guessing we carry about 750 different beers. Over 100 from Belgium. A growing number from Italy and Scandinavia. A big selection from Eastern Europe. About 100 from Germany. About 50 from the British Isles. And hundreds from the USA.
We’ve always got something on sale- usually up to 5 or 6 things at a time. This month we’re featuring Warsteiner, Lion Stout, Summit Extra Pale Ale, Whitbread Ale and Sleeman beers.
When you enter the department you’ll see two racks- one is the “NEW & INTERESTING” beers, and the other is the “FEATURED ON THIS MONTH’S WEB PAGE” rack. These beers are always recommended trying. Our Web Page, www.merchantsfinewine.com, has a monthly feature highlighting “The Unusual Beer Style of the Month”. I strongly recommend trying these beers every month- most are beers that are not as well-known- but not necessarily strong or “extreme”! Examples are Bitter, Marzen, Munich Dunkel, Dortmunder, Gose, Berliner Weisse. Or, if you come in and tell us what you like or what you’re looking for, we’ll recommend something for you or for whoever you’re purchasing for.
Lastly, education! I’ll teach you about beer styles, when you come in if I have time, or I’ll e-mail you my own “Beer 101”. And beer and food pairings also.
This is a great store- not just for beer, but for wine, spirits and unusual cheeses and packaged foods. Come and visit us soon!