Hangar 24 Lands in Nor Cal, Presses for New Distribution in 2013

With new distribution in Northern California, a recent brewery expansion, and plans to dramatically increase production in 2013, Hangar 24 Brewery is flying fast and thinking big.

Having distributed exclusively in Southern California since its launch in 2008, the Redlands, Calif.-based brewery debuted in the San Francisco market in January, marking the largest expansion in its footprint to date. Earlier this week, Hangar 24 began distributing in Sacramento and Napa counties, and plans to enter Las Vegas, Reno and Lake Tahoe, Nev. later this month. And while Hangar 24 is looking at Arizona as the next market for the brand, company founder Ben Cook said that the brewery plans to roll into a number of additional states throughout 2013

“We’re talking to several other wholesalers in several other states,” Cook said.

The new distribution follows consistent production growth for Hangar 24, which brewed 24,000 barrels in 2012 – a remarkable leap from the 1,100 barrels that it produced in its first year. Cook said that Hangar 24 could brew as many as 40-50,000 barrels in 2013 following a recent expansion of its brewery operations and the addition of a new canning line. He noted that cans — which are used for its Orange Wheat and Helles Lager – would complement Hangar 24’s existing bottle and draft sales and would not become a primary package for the brand.

Cook said that while production and distribution logistics will not present immediate challenges for Hangar 24, developing consumer awareness in new markets will. To boost its presence in the Bay Area, Hangar 24 marketing manager Josh Gould has been in the San Francisco area over the past few months in preparation for launch and to develop distributor and retail relationships in the area, Cook said. Additionally, Hangar 24 signed on as an industry sponsor of San Francisco Beer Week, a nine-day craft beer festival that begins today.

Hangar 24 will initially self-distribute in Northern California, much as it does in its backyard markets of Inland Empire and Orange County, although the brewery is planning to hand over distribution responsibilities to area wholesalers in the coming months, Cook said.

Locally, however, Hangar 24 will continue self-distributing along with five other beer brands that it sells. Cook said that the company will look to take on more brands for distribution, but only if they are the right fit. Moreover, Cook believes that having a distribution company of its own will enable the brewery to identify and align with strong distributors partners for its own brand in the future.

“We definitely plan on adding additional brands; we’re already in talks with several more right now,” Cook said. “But we’re not into brand collecting. We want to represent all of our brands really well. And we have a great track record that we already carry.”

As for the long-term, Cook said that Hangar 24 is aiming to become a national brand and is already developing relationships around the country with an eye on future partnerships.

“We definitely see ourselves as growing into a national brand,” Cook said. “If we continue our growth pattern, if we’re fortunate enough to continue to follow that, it shouldn’t be too long before we’re reaching the East Coast, Midwest, and beyond.”

Watch this short video in which Brewbound’s Joshua Pratt speaks with Cook about the history of Hangar 24 and its foray into Northern California.

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