Distribution Roundup: America’s First Trappist Brewery Launches in Massachusetts

The first certified Trappist brewery on U.S. soil has officially launched and will begin distributing its beer across Massachusetts next week.

Saint Joseph’s Abbey, located in Spencer, Mass., has signed a distribution agreement with Massachusetts Beverage Alliance (MBA) and hopes to produce 4,000 barrels in 2014, according to the Boston Globe.

“The uniqueness of being the first Trappist brewery in the U.S. obviously weighed a lot in our decision to court these guys,” said Brian Murphy, director of sales & marketing for MBA.

The chance to sell the abbey’s beer was such a great business opportunity that MBA signed a distribution agreement, even before sampling any of the product, a rare practice Murphy said.

“With this, I just felt like it was a risk worth taking,” he said. “Luckily, the beer is excellent.”

But that quality liquid comes with a steep price tag: 4-packs have a suggested retail price between $16.99 and $17.49, Murphy said.

Despite the high sticker price (6-packs of similarly-positioned products are often priced in the $10-12 range), Murphy said retailers and bar owners are still very interested in getting their hands on the beer.

“It’s going to come out of the gates hot,” he said.

While less holy, a number of other craft breweries ramped up their distribution efforts to start the new year. In Indianapolis, Indiana City Brewing Co. has inked an agreement with Cavalier Distributing for local coverage to bars and restaurants. Before signing on with Cavalier, brewery owner Ray Kamstra had self-distributed to local watering holes.

While the delivery mechanism has changed, its footprint has not, as its beer will continue to be exclusively available within Indianapolis city limits.

“This allows us to focus on what we do best,” said Kamstra in a press release, “while Cavalier gets our kegs of beer out around Indy in the most reliable way possible.”

Meanwhile, Blue Pants Brewery of Madison, Ala. also recently doubled its distribution footprint, reports AL.com. The company has added new markets in Mississippi and the Memphis, Tenn. area.

Consumers in the new territories can look forward to distribution of the brewery’s Workman, Amber Waders of Grain and Spare Pair ales, according to the article.

“We’ve always wanted to be a Southeast brewery — we’re not exactly trying to take over the country,” founder and brewmaster Michael Spratley told the website.

Madison, Wis.-based Ale Asylum also announced an expansion into Illinois with Wirtz Beverage Group. Wirtz will initially bring Ale Asylum beers to the Chicago, Rockford, and Champaign markets.

It’s the first out-of-state distribution for Ale Aslyum, whose $8 million, 45,000 sg. ft. brewing facility and tasting room, which opened in 2012, enabled the brewery to expand distribution, brewery co-founder Otto Dilba told the Wisconsin State Journal. The brewery has the capacity to produce upwards of 100,000 barrels with the addition of new fermentation tanks.

While Ale Asylum is bringing its beers out of Wisconsin for the first time, Epic Brewing of Salt Lake City, Utah is entering the market with a line of 36 beers through River City Distributing.

The Wisconsin launch will take place over the course of next week, culminating in statewide availability.

In downtown Richmond, Va., startup brewery Triple Crossing Brewing Co., has signed a distribution agreement with Brown Distributing.

Triple Crossing co-owner Adam Worcester told Richmond Biz Sense that the company was initially attracted to Brown because of the company’s dedication to grooming Richmond into a “beer mecca” comparable to Portland, Ore.

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