Brown Distributing, a Florida-based beer wholesaler that sells products from more than 60 U.S. craft breweries across the entire state, is in the process of selling the rights to a variety of craft brands in some of its central and northern markets.
The company, which lists beer, wine, spirits and non-alcoholic products from more than 130 suppliers on its website, began informing craft brewery owners of its decision to transfer their brands on Monday night.
It’s unclear at this time if all craft brands currently sold by Brown Distributing will be impacted by the sale or what specific areas of Florida the company will no longer service. Messages left for executives Jason and Reid Brown were unreturned as of press time.
In three separate but verbatim notes sent to craft brewers and obtained by Brewbound, the company described its consideration process as “long and thoughtful,” and noted that “various current Florida wholesalers” would be purchasing their brands.
Those notes also indicated that Brown Distributing would continue its operations in a portion of the state.
“We also look forward to our continued mutual success in the markets where we will continue to represent your brands,” the emails read.
Reyes Beverage-owned Florida Distributing Company, based in Orlando, will acquire a portion of the Brown Distributing business, spokeswoman Molly Reilly told Brewbound.
In a conversation with Brewbound, Reilly only listed 27 craft brands (below) currently distributed by Brown, totaling about 300,000 case equivalents, that will change hands. It’s unclear if the other craft companies in Brown’s portfolio are being sold to Florida Distributing competitors or if the list was incomplete at press time.
Nevertheless, notable labels like Cigar City, Ballast Point, Founders Brewing, Duvel and Funky Buddha, among others, are included in the Reyes transaction, which is expected to close in June.
The 15-million case Florida Distributing Company, which already services Lake, Seminole, Brevard, Orange, Osceola, and Polk counties, will also expand its territory to include Flagler and Volusia counties upon the closing of the transaction.
According to multiple brewers whose products are sold by Brown Distributing, at least three other wholesalers — Tri Eagle Sales in Midway, Triple P Distributing in Jacksonville and Burkhardt Sales & Service in St. Augustine — will also acquire portions of the Brown craft portfolio.
It’s worth noting that Florida beer franchise law could permit some brewers to withhold approval of the sale and transfer of distribution rights, but those challenges can be costly and reasonably difficult for under-resourced small brewers.
Komlossy Law’s Ross Appel, a small business attorney who works with Florida craft brewers, said that while a clause in the state’s franchise law requires a manufacturer’s’ written consent before a distributor can “sell, transfer or assign” control of any brand to another wholesaler, brewers cannot “unreasonably withhold consent” to any transition.
Craft brewers who negotiated stricter contracts that included provisions limiting the types of wholesalers who would be permitted to acquire their brands in the event of a sale could have an easier time withholding approval, Appel said. Across the U.S., however, franchise law language tends to favor distributors, he added.
List of brands being sold to Florida Distributing Company:
- Cigar City Brewing
- Funky Buddha
- Duvel Moortgat USA
- Founders Brewing
- Merchant Du Vin
- Left Hand Brewing
- Rekorderlig Cider
- Ballast Point Brewing
- Uinta Brewing
- Breckenridge Brewery
- Innis & Gunn
- Swamp Head Brewery
- California Cider Co. (ACE)
- Due South Brewing
- Highland Brewing
- Narragansett Brewing
- Lazy Magnolia
- Atlanta Brewing (Red Brick Brewing)
- Brew Bus
- Barley Mow
- Inlet Brewing
- Coronado Brewing
- Cisco Brewers
- Native Brewing
- Peak Organic Brewing
- Green Bench Brewing
In separate but related transaction involving Reyes’ Premium Distributors of Maryland outfit, the wholesaler will acquire a combined 100,000 case equivalents via the sale of Anchor Brewing, Brooklyn Brewery, Delmar Brewing, Dogfish Head, Duvel Moortgat, Full Tilt Brewing, F.X. Matt Brewing, Guinness, IBH, Lancaster, Latis Imports, Mark Anthony Brands, Mountain State Brewing, North American Breweries, National Brewing, Pabst Brewing (Tsingtao), Peabody Heights, Phusion Products, Sierra Nevada, Stone Brewing, United States Beverage Company and Vermont Hard Cider (excluding Woodchuck) brands from F.P. Winner Ltd.