Here’s a seldom seen craft beer milestone for you: Central States Beverage Co. has announced year-end sales of 1 million cases of Boulevard beers throughout the greater Kansas City area alone, the most ever by one of the brewery’s distributors in one year.
The MillerCoors-affiliated wholesaler has more than doubled sales of the Boulevard brand since first acquiring it in 2007, when it launched with sales of 497,000 cases. In 2013, Central States fell just 40,000 cases short of the 1 million case benchmark.
To put those 1 million cases into perspective, the Kansas City metropolitan area — which stretches between Kansas and Missouri — is about a 10 million case-per-year market, according to Jon Poteet, Central States’ vice president of marketing.
Today, Boulevard products account for at least 23 percent of all Central States case sales, said Poteet, and the company projects its total beer sales to approach 5 million cases this year.
Belgian brewer Duvel Moortgat acquired Boulevard, which is headquartered in Kansas City, Mo., in October of last year. Though Central States also sells Duvel products, the 1 million cases refer to Boulevard products alone, said Poteet.
The brand is growing in both on- and off-premise channels for the wholesaler, according to Poteet, but he said the company’s primary focus in its quest for 1 million was strengthening Boulevard’s presence on-premise.
“Making sure they’re incredibly dominant in the on-premise in terms of tap handles was a big point of focus both for year-round beers as well as Smokestack bottles,” he said. “On a base that large, it’s really targeted, focused distribution. I know a lot of people say, ‘right beer, right account,’ and that can be kind of cliché, but it’s really, really important.”
Those right accounts, in many instances, have been local stadiums and entertainment venues in the area. Recall that, in 2012, Boulevard struck a three-year deal with Major League Baseball’s Kansas City Royals to sponsor the team. Kauffman Stadium now features three Boulevard-branded concession stands, two Boulevard Grills and a Boulevard Pub behind home plate.
The Royals also made the World Series this year, thus extending the franchise’s season, if only by a month or so, and affording more opportunity to sell beer there.
“Boulevard being a partner with Central States and the Royals was not a bad play,” added Poteet. “We would have hit that number with or without the World Series. But it didn’t hurt us.”
While Poteet said they’re extremely proud of the milestone, it won’t be long before the company puts it behind them and gets back to work.
“Now we’ll go work on 2 million cases,” he said.