Two things are true in Massachusetts right now: First, somewhere in the Bay State a child is having his tongue pried from a frozen flagpole. Second, and much more importantly, the popularity of craft beer continues to rise. At least, that’s the takeaway from the year one network of wholesalers just enjoyed.
Massachusetts Beverage Alliance (MBA) grew sales 97 percent in 2013, carried by both the existing brands in its portfolio and new breweries and cider companies alike. Of the 91,312 additional cases sold over 2012, 56.2 percent of the growth came from new acquisitions, while the remaining 43.8 percent was driven by established brands
In total, MBA sold 185,744 cases in 2013.
Building off that growth, MBA has also announced the hiring of state sales manager, Keith O’Hara.
O’Hara, having previously worked with Dogfish Head and Magic Hat, is tasked with assembling a newly formed brand ambassador division, which will support the five members that make up the network — Atlas Distributing Inc., Burke Distributing, Colonial Wholesale Beverage, Commercial Distributing Company, and Merrimack Valley Distributing — as well as attend to a variety of other roles working with stores, wait staff, and more.
Not resting on its laurels, MBA kicked off 2014 with the addition of two new suppliers: Spencer Trappist Ale, of Spencer, Mass. and San Diego’s Coronado Brewing.
The addition of the two brands, one from each coast, jibes with how MBA director of sales and marketing Brian Murphy described its approach to craft in a 2012 profile: “We want a nice mix of major national craft players and strong New England brands with a hook or a buzz that we can use to craft a marketing strategy as we launch the brand into the marketplace,” he said at the time.
Knowing that the country’s first Trappist brewery was preparing to launch in Massachusetts, MBA made a push to sign the brand before even tasting the product, which Murphy said was a rare practice.
“I just felt like it was a risk worth taking,” he said earlier this month at the time of the announcement.
The risk, and the way MBA has been doing business, seems to be paying off. Unlike sticking your tongue to a frozen flagpole.
The full press release is below:
Randolph, MA — 2013 was a solid year for the Massachusetts Beverage Alliance as sales grew 97% vs. 2012 finishing +91,312 cases for a total of 185,744 cases sold. Growth was driven by growth from both existing breweries (+43.8%, +41,188 cases) and the acquisition of new breweries and cider companies (+50,124 cases).
Committed to the craft category, the MBA has announced that they have hired Keith O’Hara as state sales manager effective January 6th, 2014. Keith brings great experience & knowledge about the craft category and the Massachusetts craft beer market, spending his last 3.5 years as Northeast Regional Manager for Dogfish Head Brewery and spent 1.5 years with Magic Hat prior. Part of Keith’s initial responsibilities includes helping hire and lead the newly formed brand ambassador division. The MBA is hiring an additional 5 new employees to bring to a total of 6 brand ambassadors. These ambassadors will be spread across the state of Massachusetts supporting our five member distributor craft and specialty teams. The ambassador’s roles and responsibilities include: in-store tastings, wait-staff trainings, beer dinners, draught line activations, merchandising, craft beer festival support & act as fresh beer champions.
The MBA has also announced distribution partnerships with two new breweries for Q1- 2014:
Spencer Trappist Ale — Spencer, MA. — St. Joseph’s Abbey in Spencer, MA is home to a community of Trappist monks and the first American Trappist brewery. Following the Benedictine tradition of ora et labora (prayer and work), the monks pursue a simple life of contemplative prayer, manual labor, and hospitality. The brewery helps support the monks and their charitable outreach. Spencer Trappist Ale’s is full-bodied, golden-hued ale with fruity accents; a dry finish and light hop bitterness. The beer is unfiltered and unpasteurized, preserving live yeast that naturally carbonates the beer in the bottle and keg, and contributes to the flavor and aroma.
Spencer is one of only ten Trappist breweries in the world and the first in the U.S. This means that Spencer can use the “Authentic Trappist Product” logo granted by the International Trappist Association. This logo certifies that the beer was brewed within the walls of a Trappist monastery, the monks there take responsibility for the production, and all additional profits are given to charity. Spencer Trappist Ale, 6.5% ABV, will be available in 6-4 11.2 oz. bottles; distribution begins statewide Monday January 20th. Draught will also become available in late February.
Coronado Brewing Co. — Coronado, CA — One of San Diego County’s “Original 6” breweries from 1998, Coronado Brewing makes its splash into the Massachusetts market this February. Coronado’s iconic Mermaid image will help allure fans of flavorful and hoppy West Coast-Style beers to this brewery’s portfolio of bold craft brews. Led by favorites such as Mermaid’s Red IPA – 5.7% ABV, Idiot IPA — An Imperial with 8.5% ABV and Blue Ridge Coffee Stout, 5.4% ABV, along with limited quantities of recently released Jurata — (a collaboration with Cigar City Brewing of Tampa, FL) a Baltic Porter weighing in at 8.0% ABV there will be a wide selection of beers to choose from. Expect to see 12oz 6 packs, 12oz 4 packs, 22oz, and draught of 4 of Coronado’s “Core Brands”& Crown Series beers throughout the commonwealth.
The team from Coronado Brewing Co. will be in Massachusetts the week of February 17th to help kick off the brand statewide. Stay tuned to Massachusetts Beverage Alliance’s Facebook page for details on kick-off parties and in-store tastings.
“Our ownership’s commitment to helping grow the craft category in Massachusetts is a unique opportunity for our entire team,” says Brian Murphy, Director of Sales & Marketing of the Massachusetts Beverage Alliance. “with the additions of Spencer Trappist Ale & Coronado Brewing Co., our newly announced brand ambassador team along with our existing portfolio of excellent craft beers, imports, and ciders we are primed to have another tremendous year of growth in 2014”
About the Massachusetts Beverage
Alliance The Massachusetts Beverage Alliance LLC is a network of like- minded beer distributors who share the mission of providing, promoting, and building quality craft and specialty import beer and ciders throughout the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The Alliance’s network consists of five wholesale partners — Atlas Distributing Inc., Burke Distributing, Colonial Wholesale Beverage, Commercial Distributing Company and Merrimack Valley Distributing Company. Together with our brewer partners, we are committed to bringing the freshest and best tasting beer to consumers and retail partners in our respective markets. www.massbevalliance.com
About Coronado Brewing Company
In 1996, when craft beer was still a foreign term and San Diego County was home to only a handful of breweries, the Chapman brothers Ron and Rick opened a brewpub in their hometown of Coronado. CBC brews abundantly hoppy West Coast-style ales staying true to their San Diego roots. They began distributing their beers throughout the local market, and today you can find Coronado beers in 13 states across the US. In addition to their long established pub in Coronado, the company opened a tasting room inside their newly built San Diego production facility in early 2013.