Lickinghole Creek Co-Founder Departs to Lead Distribution Upstart

A new distribution company with ties to a small Virginia craft brewery is set to launch in the Southwestern part of the state.

Saint X LLC — which aims to provide an alternative route to market for small craft brewers — has set up shop in a 10,000 sq. ft. warehouse located near recently launched Beale’s Brewery in Bedford, Va.

Beale’s, which is co-owned by developer John David McCormack, is also the wholesaler’s first client.

Leading the upstart is former Lickinghole Creek Craft Brewery co-founder Sean-Thomas Pumphrey, who is in the process of selling his minority stake back to the brewery’s other owners.

“I saw firsthand that small breweries have unique challenges and circumstances when it comes to how they distribute their beer,” Pumphrey said via a press release.

In a conversation with Brewbound, Pumphrey said Saint X LLC, which is registered to Mary Killmon, McCormack’s partner, would service independent on- and off-premise retailers across a “small and manageable footprint,” as it learns the distribution business.

“We need to develop our reputation and be able to provide a high level of customer service,” he said. “We have to get product in on time, develop trust and have the right products in the right places.”

Although the company is momentarily serving as the de facto self-distribution arm for Beale’s, Pumphrey said Saint X intends to ink contracts with other small craft beer suppliers.

“We are not just another distribution company,” he said via the release. “We’re doing business with the small breweries in mind. Saint X will be a true partner to these smaller brewing operations and help them grow.”

The Saint X Distribution setup is similar to other Virginia distribution upstarts, such as Craft Virginia Distributing, which has ties to Three Notch’d Brewing, and Reverie Distribution, which has ties to The Veil Brewing. Both of those companies are focused on servicing smaller suppliers and delivering to independent craft beer retailers.

Other small distribution companies have cropped up in recent years as well, including Hop House Distribution in Richmond and Pretty Ugly Distribution in Chesapeake.

“It is really reminiscent of when I started Lickinghole Creek,” Pumphrey said. “I feel like we are right back in that. Everyone is brand new.”

Pumphrey wouldn’t disclose how much investment was needed to launch Saint X, but admitted the company hoped to turn a profit in the “second or third year.”

“Our burn rate is good and our costs are known,” he said.

In addition to its warehouse, the company’s largest initial costs included the purchase a refrigerated delivery van and two full-time salaries.

Saint X is planning to begin distribution of Beale’s flagship offering, Gold, a Helles lager that is currently only available in the brewery’s taproom, throughout Lynchburg and Roanoke next month, he added.

“We are starting small – one product and a small market that we understand pretty well,” he said. “This will give us the opportunity to learn as we grow.”

A press release with additional information is included below.

BEDFORD, Va. (September 18, 2017) – A distribution company formed to meet the needs of Virginia’s craft brewers will launch this fall. The company, Saint X, will initially focus on Southwest Virginia before expanding statewide. Beale’s in Bedford County has signed on to be Saint X’s first customer.

Leading Saint X is Sean-Thomas Pumphrey, a well-known name in Virginia’s craft beer scene as a co-founder at Lickinghole Creek Craft Brewery located in Goochland County.

“I saw firsthand that small breweries have unique challenges and circumstances when it comes to how they distribute their beer,” Pumphrey said. “We are not just another distribution company. We’re doing business with the small breweries in mind. Saint X will be a true partner to these smaller brewing operations and help them grow.”

Saint X will have refrigerated trucks and multiple warehouses throughout its distribution area, keeping the beer as fresh as possible when it reaches the customer. Pumphrey especially is focused on developing a strong rapport with customers and making sure the various needs that breweries experience when working with distributors are put first.

“Beale’s philosophy pairs nicely with how Saint X does business,” said James Frazer, brewmaster at Beale’s. “They understand our needs as a new brewery and we’re excited to get bricks and kegs of our beer into markets throughout Southwest Virginia. People have been responding to our beer in a huge way since we opened in June and it will be game-changing to get in front of a wider audience.”

Saint X will begin distributing Beale’s kegs and their signature 8-pack of Beale’s Gold lager, better known as “bricks” in southwest Virginia during the first week of October. Roanoke, Lynchburg, Bedford and Rockbridge will be among the first to see Beale’s products in retail stores, restaurants and bars. The first beer to be distributed will be Beale’s flagship beer, Beale’s Gold, a Helles Lager. The beer is the first Virginia-made beer packaged in an 8-pack.

“We’ve got a lot of ideas for how we can help Virginia’s brewers,” Pumphrey said. “But first things first, we’re excited to get Beale’s Gold in front of more people come October.”

For more information about Saint X, visit www.saintxva.com.

About Saint X

Saint X Distribution, a distribution company made for the needs of Virginia’s craft brewers, plans to launch in October 2017 in Virginia. The distributor’s focus will be on southwest Virginia to start with plans to expand statewide.

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