Friday, January 15, 2010

Where has all the Stella gone?

Some while back - maybe two or three weeks ago - I was denied my usual pint of Stella in Luga's Villa.

At the time, I dismissed this as a minor irritation, put it down to a fleeting glitch in supply (or the perennially flaky Luga having forgotten to order fresh stock!). The thought that he might have chosen to discontinue carrying this beer was briefly disturbing to me, but I put it out of my mind.

However, they still had no Stella at the start of this week. And other places seem to be running out too - Gingko, Fubar, Tun. I was relieved to find some last night at Nearby The Tree. (How? How do they still have it when everyone else has run dry? Do they get in twenty kegs at a time??)

I'm told that the distributor here has encountered some kind of problem with supplies from Belgium: it's suggested that one or two inbound containers due for distribution this month were either delayed in transit at sea or have been held up through customs. (I wonder: have the poor Belgians done something to offend the Chinese government? Has their Prime Minister been rash enough to profess that the Dalai Lama is really quite a nice chap, or something like that? Such petty punitive actions as delaying passage through customs of a country's goods usually have some such political motive.)

While trying to dig up some more definite information on this online (I failed), I learned that Belgium is suffering something of a beer famine (dread words!) itself at the moment. Supplies of many beers are being choked off by strike action against Anheuser Busch over threatened downsizing of its European workforce. However, that's blown up just this week, so it wouldn't yet be having any impact on the supply of imported beers in China. And I assume the disruption of supply is limited to Anheuser Busch brands - which don't include Stella, or the more worthwhile Belgian craft brews.

So, does anybody know for sure -- what's up with the Stella drought in Beijing??


The Nag said...

From the BBC website:

Belgian beer dispute hits supply of Stella Artois

Disaster may be brewing - or not - in beer-loving Belgium, where supplies of two of the country's most famous beers may be down to the last dregs.
An industrial dispute over planned job cuts means a blockade is threatening supplies of Stella Artois and Leffe.
A week-long blockade has stopped any beer from leaving the Leuven headquarters of Anheuser-Busch InBev, the world's biggest brewing company.
Belgian supermarkets and bars have warned stocks are running low.
The unions are protesting against the company's plans to cut more than 250 of 2,700 jobs in Belgium, and so far talks aimed at resolving the dispute have got nowhere.
But there is no need for beer-lovers to panic just yet, says the BBC's Dominic Hughes in Brussels: There are probably around 125 breweries in Belgium producing around 800 standard beers.
Add in special one-off brews, and some experts believe there could be more than 8,000 beers.
No small beer
Anheuser-Busch InBev announced this week a plan to cut 800 jobs across western Europe, 10% of its 8,000 workforce in the region.
The firm said the move was a response to falling beer sales, with the layoffs spread across Belgium, Germany, the UK, the Netherlands and Luxembourg.
The news triggered protests at the firm's brewery in the Belgian town of Leuven, where it also has its headquarters.
Anheuser-Busch InBev was formed in 2008 when Belgium-based InBev bought Anheuser-Busch, the owner of Budweiser, and the largest brewer in the US.
InBev itself was formed in 2004 when Belgian Interbrew merged with Brazil's AmBev.

Froog said...

Thanks, Nags.

I didn't realise Anheuser Busch owned the Stella brand.

Even so, this dispute can't have hit supplies in China yet; if it comes by sea, there must be a 4-6 week lag.

The Nag said...

Fair comment - who knows then, perhaps someone is stockpiling it for when the crisis happens!