For the past two years, Brooklyn Brewery has remained steadfast in its commitment to grow organically in existing markets despite repeated attempts from wholesalers looking to lure the company into new states.
“Our 25 percent growth this year has come organically,” said Robin Ottaway, the company’s vice president of sales. “At the end of this year, we will have doubled in size in the last three years.”
That kind of growth is impressive, especially when you consider that Brooklyn’s last new market entry came in 2011, when it broadened its footprint to include Minnesota. That will change in October when the company begins distributing in Nevada via Southern Wine & Spirits.
“When we started talking to distributors, we realized that Las Vegas is a culinary destination,” said Ottaway. “The whole food component, and the fact that we already know many of these top restaurateurs from New York, is right in our wheelhouse.”
But Brooklyn Brewery’s most lucrative sales opportunity on the strip won’t come from earning placement at any acclaimed, James Beard award-winning restaurants. Rather, the company’s impetus to skip over states like Colorado and Arizona and head for Sin City was a Brooklyn-based bowling alley known for its fried chicken.
Brooklyn Bowl, one of New York City’s most popular nightspots and a neighbor of the brewery, is expanding its operations to Las Vegas, bringing Brooklyn Brewery along with them.
“They sell a boatload of beer,” said Ottaway. “That one account alone would make any new market viable for us.”
That’s not all. Brooklyn Brewery will also have a major brand ally in Samuel Merritt, the director of on-premise beer for Southern Wine & Spirits. Merritt previously worked as a brand manager with Brooklyn Brewery from 1996-2006.
“I never stopped loving the brand,” he said. “I know the personalities and have been hearing the message for a long time now. It will be a pleasure to sell the beer again.”
But don’t expect Brooklyn’s foray into Vegas to spur any additional expansion.
“We’ve learned our lesson about not expanding too quickly,” Ottaway said. “We aren’t swayed by numbers. We want to build a good brand here and I think we will focus on this for a couple of years.”
Brooklyn will begin shipping beer to Nevada next week and should be available by Oct. 1, Ottaway said. More formal launch events are scheduled for 2014 when Brooklyn Bowl is scheduled to open at LINQ, Caesars Entertainment’s open-air retail, dining and entertainment district currently being built across the street from Caesars Palace.