For many craft brewers, the decision to take on new distributors is a constant question mark. Maturing craft companies toy with the various strategies. Grow too slow and you might miss a selling opportunity. Grow too quickly and consumers might not grab the brand off the shelf.
Mississippi’s Lazy Magnolia was one of those breweries weighing its options and it appears that a broad strategy will suit the brewery just fine in 2014. The company has planned launches planned in nine new markets. Currently wrapping up rollouts in Kentucky and Ohio, Lazy Magnolia will begin distributing in Missouri, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Washington D.C., Chicago and Indianapolis as the year goes on.
“We accomplished what we set out to do in 2013 and created just enough buzz for those surrounding states to be interested in our brands that it only made sense for us to stretch our arms a little farther,” said Brandi Burge, sales and marketing director for Lazy Magnolia.
Lazy Magnolia produced approximately 15,000 barrels in 2013 and is hoping to surpass 20,000 barrels this year. Additionally, an expansion that will almost triple the size of its current capacity is expected to be complete by March.
The brewery’s current territories include Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, Texas, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, and Arkansas.
Lazy Magnolia isn’t the only brewery making moves in Kentucky, either. Flat 12 Bierwerks of Indianapolis recently inked a deal with River City Distributing for distribution in Louisville.
“This is a natural step across the Ohio River for Flat 12,” said Rob Caputo, brewery co-founder and Director of Brewing Operations in a press release. “We’ve had a good relationship with the southern part of our state and we’re happy to now extend that to Louisville.”
Half Cycle IPA, Pogue’s Run Porter, and a rotation of seasonals and specialty beers will be available on draft and in bottles in Louisville.
Meanwhile, another Indiana-based brewery is focused on growing in its home market. Upland Brewing Co., of Bloomington, has announced a partnership with World Class Beverage for distribution in Central Indiana.
World Class, a division of Monarch Beverage Co., will handle distribution for the brewery in most of Central and Southwestern Indiana.
Its partnership with World Class will revolve around developing Upland’s on-premise retail business while Monarch will service the off-premise trade.
“We saw an opportunity to utilize the World Class sales team to work with top craft beer accounts, while continuing to conduct the grocery and parts of the off-premise channel with Monarch Beverage,” Upland Vice President of Sales Danny Henrich said in a statement. “This is a change that is positive for all parties involved; we will continue to supply beer without interruption to our current loyal and supportive customers, as well as dive deeper into servicing smaller, craft-centric bars and restaurants.”
Outside of Indiana, the brewery’s beers are available in parts of Kentucky, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Chicago.
Of course, internationally-based craft breweries are continuing to gain a foothold in the U.S. as well. Canada’s Flying Monkeys Craft Brewery, which is based in Ontario, said it is expanding its distribution footprint to include Ohio, New York, and Michigan.
According to the Akron Beacon Journal, the company is launching in new markets with Smashbomb Atomic IPA, StereoVision Kristall Wheat, and The Chocolate Manifesto.
“The U.S. craft beer consumer, they’ve embraced the market so much,” brewery founder Peter Chiodo told the website. “Why would you not want to give somebody some liquid gold down here, really? We make some unusual beers that we think some people would dig.”
The article adds that the brewery produces about 10,000 barrels annually. In addition to distributing in Canada and the U.S., Flying Monkey’s beers are available in Sweden, Spain, Norway, Belgium, Brazil, and the Cayman Islands.