Distribution Roundup: Brewers Make Moves in California & Amish Country Alike

As the saying goes, there’s more than one way to skin a cat. The same is true for building a distribution footprint for a beer brand. Some breweries build out from home and gradually move into bordering states. Others, like Austin, Texas.-based Adelbert’s Brewery, take an approach that’s seems akin to throwing darts at a map.

Adelbert’s markets include Texas and neighboring New Mexico, also South Florida and parts of New York.Now, Adelbert’s is expanding distribution into California. The brewery has inked an agreement with Wine Warehouse for statewide distribution of its Black Rhino, Philosophizer, Flyin’ Monks, Dancin’ Monks, Tripel B, Scratchin’ Hippo, Naked Nun, and its newly announced Belgian-style IPA, The Traveler.

“We are thrilled to be adding the world class Belgian-style ales of Adelbert’s Brewery from Austin, Texas. The quality of their beers is exceptional and we expect Adelbert’s will be a star in our portfolio,” Kevin Day, the beer manager at Wine Warehouse, said in a press release.

Scott Hovey, Adelbert’s owner and brewmaster, said California appeals to him not only because of its status as a craft beer hotbed, but also because of his own personal fondness of the state.

“In my former career in high tech, I spent a lot of time traveling to California and thoroughly enjoyed my time there,” he said. “It has been my dream since the day we started this brewery to share our ales with beer lovers all over. I’m overjoyed to expand into a market that not only holds fond memories for me, but is one of our country’s top beer meccas.”

Before setting out to satiate beer lovers all over the country, as Hovey describes, brewers often first devote most of their focus to meeting demand at home.

Ketchum, Idaho-based Sawtooth Brewery has done just that, and partnered with Watkins Distributing for coverage throughout Twin Falls, Idaho Falls, Pocatello, and Stanley, further solidifying its place and name in its home market.

The brewery’s False Summit Amber Ale, Freeheeler Rye IPA, and seasonal offerings will initially be released on draft only, with 22 oz. bottles to follow at a future date.

The brewery will continue to self-distribute in the Wood River Valley and Boise Metro area.

Sawtooth isn’t the only craft brewery trying to meet demand at home. Millersburg Brewing Co., nestled in the heart of Ohio Amish Country, notes the Akron Beacon Journal, is expanding distribution into Columbus with 17th Star Distributing and Newark with Matesich Distributing.

Before the agreement, Millersburg’s beers were available at select locations in Columbus through self distribution efforts.

Bill Baker, the brewery’s owner, told the paper he likes where the company is headed as it gets set to also enter Cincinnati.

“The basic fact is our beer is good and none of this would happen if the beer was marginal. The taste buds out there are too good and there’s too much competition,” he said.

By Baker’s words, however, it seems as though Millersburg is aiming to grow far outside the borders of Ohio.

“Our mission statement remains the same. F— Sam Adams. If they can do it, we can do it.”

Who knew that kind of feistiness could be found in Amish Country?

In North Carolina, Southern Appalachian Brewery has tapped Freedom Beverage for statewide distribution. The brewery, out of Hendersonville, had been self-distributing prior to the agreement, though about 95 percent of the 750 barrels it rolled out in 2013 were sold in its tasting room, according to Blue Ridge Now.

But still, that 5 percent is a taxing effort.

“It’s very difficult to self-distribute, even though it’s legal in our great state,” founder Andy Cubbin told the website. “Whether you have a couple employees and a couple of trucks, or whether you pay (the same percent of your budget) to your distributor that has a couple dozen trucks and couple dozen employees, it’s going to cost what it’s going to cost and there are a lot of benefits with using a distributor. Most people I talk to that have gone with a distributor say, ‘I can’t believe we were doing this ourselves for so long.’”

Freedom Beverage is dedicated to craft beer, brand manager Greg Leone told the site, that prefers to carry small, “boutique” brands. As such, he said, Southern Appalachian should fit well in its portfolio.

“I think their price point is right in line and I’ve heard nothing but good things up there in the mountains,” he told the site. “That’s really what we needed and was really kind of our goal, to get somebody up that way because the support up there for local breweries is so strong.”

Lastly, Veteran Beer Co., of Chicago, Ill., may bill itself as “America’s Most Important Beer,” but an “essential piece of the puzzle” had been missing in its home market until now.

That piece, said the brewery’s regional director Marc Blue, has been put in place now that L&V Distributors Inc. has begun distributing its beer in McHenry County.

“I live in this area in Wonder Lake, so I know all about our vibrant local social scene. Partnering with a respected distributor like L&V gives us immediate credibility with both retailers and consumers,” Blue told the Northwest Herald.

L&V Distributors president Donald Lewis called it “an honor” to add Veteran to its portfolio.

“The beer they’ve created is outstanding, and we fully embrace their mission of ending Veteran unemployment in one generation. This really is a perfect fit for our company.”

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