Contrary to popular belief, beer does not sell itself, according to Jim Rinella, owner of Rinella Company, the area’s Budweiser distributorship.
“There are so many brands; the choices are endless,” says Rinella. “As a distributor, we do not sell the beer to consumers, but we try to help the grocery store, corner tavern, golf course or community event sell our product.
“We are a sales organization, executing delivery of product, organizing displays, printing table tents and other signage for our customers. We want our customers to make money or they will go out of business,” he continues. “We also play an important role in quality control. Since fermentation of beer does not stop with bottling, beer has a limited shelf life. Our route drivers use laptop computers to track inventory at an establishment to make sure the owners have the right amount of product and that everything is fresh.”
According to a stack of rules and regulations set by the Illinois Liquor Control Commission, the Rinella Company also pays excise taxes on the product, keeps detailed records on the licensed accounts they do business with and regulates the flow of alcohol in and out of the state. Since it takes 30 days to brew beer, the distributorship also holds inventory.
“Yes, we are highly regulated in this industry and rightly so,” says Rinella. “We’re not selling apples here. We work with our clients to educate consumers on responsible drinking and to eliminate underage drinking. We want everyone to have a good time, but also to be safe.”
The Rinella Company was started in 1953 by Rinella’s father, Sam, and two partners as MRS Beverages. A quarter of a decade later, the partners left the company and the name changed to Rinella Company. Jim Rinella took over leadership of the company in the Quincy area in 1984 and now, his son, Nick, is also with the company.
“Nick has really encouraged us to expand our product offerings to reach a larger customer base,” says Rinella. In addition to offering all Budweiser, Busch and Michelob beers, a host of craft, specialty and gluten-free beers, imports, malt-flavored beverages, O’Doul’s non-alcoholic beer, liquor and wine, Rinella is now the area’s source for juices, Nesquik milk products, Coffee-mate creamers, Tradewinds, Sweet Leaf and Arizona iced teas and Monster energy drinks.
Rinella Company also attempts to educate consumers about “beer pairing” or matching the perfect beer with a certain menu.
“Beer’s broad range of flavors, aromas and textures makes it a perfect match for nearly any kind of food. Choosing beers and foods that enhance one another requires paying attention to the qualities of each,” says Rinella. For instance, the roasted malt flavor of a Budweiser Select beer pairs well with the tart and acidic flavor of lasagna while the hoppy and spicy flavor of a Michelob Light pairs well with the rich, charred flavor of a filet mignon steak. “It’s all about balance,” says Rinella.
Rinella balances business with community service, too, sponsoring many local events, and serving on the Boards of Directors for Transitions of Western Illinois, the Oakley Lindsay Center and the American Red Cross, among others over the years.
“I’ve lived here my whole life,” says Rinella. “This is a great community and we want to do everything we can to see it grow.”
So, the next time you visit your favorite establishment, “Grab some Buds.”