The new distribution coincides with an ongoing facility expansion.
The Juneau-based brewery, which produced approximately 145,000 barrels in 2013, has inked agreements with the M1 Network — a group of 11 wholesalers that cover the whole state of Michigan — as well as four distributors in South Dakota: Beal Distributing in Sioux Falls, Ellwein Distributing in Huron, Conkling Distributing in Yankton, and Eagle Sales in Rapid City and Chamberlain.
“We have been working on getting into these states for quite a while now, and we couldn’t be happier about our new distributor partners,” said Jon Blakley, sales operations manager for Alaskan, in a company statement. “South Dakota connects our Midwest territory, and Michigan is a major new market for us — it’s the first state we have entered that operates on East Coast time! And Michigan beer drinkers are very knowledgeable, so we think our beer is going to do really well there.”
The addition of Michigan and South Dakota increases the total number of states where Alaskan is available to 17.
Alaskan, the country’s 17th largest brewery, according to the Brewers Association, is in the midst of connecting its two buildings as part of a two-phase expansion project that will increase warehouse and production capacities while making way for new retail space and a tasting room.
Andy Kline, the brewery’s communications manager, said the expansion is as much about practicality as anything else. Connecting the two buildings will allow for greater efficiency, as forklifts will now be able to move product from one place to the other. Up until now, the brewery has trucked beer back and forth, a more arduous process than it needs to be, said Kline.
The first phase of the expansion is expected to be complete by February 2015.
The brewery is trying to make more than just its daily operations more convenient as well. Hopping on the aluminum bandwagon, Alaskan recently installed a canning line and will now be offering its beers in a package more conducive to the adventurous outdoor lifestyle that the brand promotes. The new packaging will initially be available in the brewery’s home market.
“With our small warehouse and the addition of a new can line, it is so tight in our packaging areas right now that we are only going to be able to produce a limited amount of cans and will only be putting out Alaskan Amber and Freeride APA for our local Alaska market to start with,” plant manager Curtis Holmes said in a statement. “But we’re excited to be able to supply cans as an alternative package so people can continue to enjoy our beer on their outdoor Alaskan adventures.”