I’m the beer guy at Pints&union, and we specialize in classic beers – the mainstay retro old school comfort beers; the greatest hits of brewing from the 1300s to now.
Beginning last month, and with another delivery expected in the next few days from Cavalier Distributing, Pints&union is embarking on a great beer experiment, slowly but steadily (at least we hope).
Before explaining our latest project in greater depth, kindly allow me to remind my readers that the Pints&union “beer mission statement” would go something like this if I ever bothered coming up with the right words: “No beer list is comprehensive, but a beer list that includes classic beers is always great, whether assembled in 1994 or 2021.”
Ah, 1994. Oasis released “Definitely Maybe,” I visited (old) Albania for the first and only time, and a company called B. United International was founded, making great beer lists far easier to build and maintain.
(The B. United portfolio) contains an exclusive mix of brands that share several common characteristics including: traditional brewing processes and ingredients, superior longevity, and the ability to deliver the ultimate taste and flavor experience to our customer for the respective category. The portfolio features brands by breweries committed to producing hand-crafted styles according to quality and tradition, forgoing the temptation to become larger commercial entities aimed at mass markets. Over the last years we have broadened our mission to include the most spectacular examples in the categories of mead, cidre, and sake.
Shelton Brothers, which ceased operations in 2020, came along in 1999, and while certainly there were other beer importers paving the way (the venerable Merchant du Vin dates all the way to the 1970s), B. United and Shelton always strike me as the two giants of the modern era.
During my salad days at NABC’s Public House during the late 1990s and early 2000s, we stocked dozens of beers from B. United and later Shelton’s portfolios. Places like Holy Grale and Sergio’s still do.
The disposition of Shelton’s products is still being sorted out. In Indiana, Cavalier has the wholesale rights to B. United. Given that Cavalier doesn’t offer the entire range of B. United’s extensive portfolio, I’ve been nipping at the lower-hanging, proven brands since Pints&union opened in 2018.
For example, since inception we’ve stocked bottles of Old Engine Oil (black ale from Scotland) and Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Marzen, one of my personal all-time favorite (smoked) lagers from Germany. Other Schlenkerla expressions have rotated through. Hanssens Oude Gueuze (lambic) has returned after some time away. We added Reissdorf Kolsch in cans last year. They’ve done well for us.
When our Upland “partnership” surge didn’t pan out, I contacted B. United in December and learned that David Frost, the firm’s superlative representative in Chicago, remains ensconced in his position. We go way back, and it didn’t take long to re-establish a working relationship. Our first purpose-built special order brought these wonderful beers to Nawbany:
Draft from Germany
Plank Heller Weizenbock (on tap now)
St. Georgenbrau Buttenheim Kellerbier (already gone)
Draft from England
JW Lees Vintage Harvest Ale (25th Anniversary, 2011) (on tap now)
Bottles from Belgium
Cans from Germany
Aecht Schlenkerla Lentbier (Fastenbier)
As selections from the B. United portfolio come to us, we’ll be devoting a draft faucet to rotating the kegs, one at a time.
(Read all about B. United’s innovative tank container program here. some beers are shipped to the USA in bulk, and kegged/canned in Connecticut.)
If this proceeds as planned, the first five kegs will be German. The next few might be from Belgium or Austria. You may not realize that B. United’s inventory of inventive Italian craft brews is staggering, and the company also imports Hitachino from Japan.
This will be a patient, gradual process of ramping up, and I’m playing it by ear until the cadence is clearer. Pints&union is not aspiring to be the Grale, Sergio’s or the Public House; we merely intend to develop a core of B. United imports, which will exist alongside our everyday drafts and packaged crafts.
(Next draft shipment: Hofstetten’s Original Hochzeitsbier von 1810 (Austria) and Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Urbock (Germany). There’s also a case of De Dolle Boskeun coming.)