It’s a becoming a common trend. “Big beer” wholesalers sharing craft brands across multiple territories in an attempt to help small brewers grow their brands through a wider distribution network.
Last week, Evan Benn of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that three of Missouri’s biggest Anheuser-Busch InBev distributors had reached an agreement to pool their collective craft portfolios together.
Today, the Massachusetts Beverage Alliance officially announced a similar partnership, albeit one that has been quietly operating in the Commonwealth for the past six months.
The alliance is a collection of five separate MillerCoors houses across Massachusetts and currently boasts a craft portfolio of five brands, including Midwest regional powerhouse Boulevard Brewing.
The players? Burke Distributing, Atlas Distributing, Merrimack Valley Distributing, Colonial Wholesale Beverage and Commercial Distributing.
And from the looks of it, the group is on the hunt for some more artisanal craft brands to fill out their book.
Below is the official press release from Massachusetts Beverage Alliance.
RANDOLPH, MA — Less than six months after its formation, the Massachusetts Beverage Alliance, LLC (MBA) has already brought beers from five unique craft breweries to Massachusetts. The Alliance was formed in 2011 to enable smaller breweries to easily ship their product throughout the five separate wholesale distribution territories in the Commonwealth, and is dedicated to helping the people of Massachusetts learn more about specialty craft and imported beers to which they might not otherwise have access.
Craft-brewed beer is the fastest growing segment of the adult beverage industry, and already represents an estimated 12% of beer sales in Massachusetts, more than 2.5-times the national average. Imported beer sales in Massachusetts represent over an estimated 15.5% of total volume, also more than 2.5-times the national average.
The recent explosion in the number of small breweries producing great product means that many such brewers don’t have the capacity to introduce their brews to wide audiences. Affiliation with the MBA enables specialty brewers to immediately offer their beers to everyone in Massachusetts.
The MBA is a consortium of five independently owned and operated wholesale beverage distributors, all committed to the common purpose of expanding access to and knowledge of craft beer, and which together serve all five geographic regions of the state. The Alliance supplies the five member distributors and the thousands of retailers, bars and restaurants they serve with unparalleled expertise regarding the dimensions of the craft beer industry. MBA staff provides tastings, wait-staff trainings, merchandising, and education, all supported by a passion for great beer.
The latest brewery to join the alliance is Notch Brewing, of Ipswich, MA, creators of a variety of surprisingly complex and flavorful low-alcohol content “session” beers. Notch joins a list that already includes Boulevard Brewing Co., from Kansas City, MO, the largest specialty craft brewery in the Midwest. Boulevard’s Smokestack series includes bold, complex ales and lagers, both traditional styles and daring experiments. Innis & Gunn is celebrated for its range of oak-aged beers brewed and aged in Edinburgh, Scotland. This Scottish brewer’s artistry is currently shown in Innis & Gunn Irish Whiskey Cask, aged in rare barrels that were previously used to mature Irish Whiskey. Backlash Beer Co. was founded in Boston last year, and is all about attitude. Backlash specializes in Belgian inspired ales with an American twist. And Baxter Brewing, from Lewiston, Maine, is the first craft-brewery in New England to embrace the concept of great beer packaged exclusively in cans and kegs, more portable, fresher and environmentally friendly than glass.
In order to ship beer state-wide in Massachusetts, breweries must develop a network that reaches into the five geographic territories into which the state is divided. The MBA has already done that, with affiliates including Burke Distributing, Randolph, MA (Boston and suburbs); Atlas Distributing, Auburn, MA (Worcester and metro west communities); Merrimack Valley Distributing, Danvers, MA (North Shore); Colonial Wholesale Beverage, North Dartmouth, MA (south shore, Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket); and Commercial Distributing, Westfield, MA (Greater Springfield, Northampton, Amherst and the Berkshires).
The Alliance is completely and solely dedicated to supporting the craft beer community and to ensuring that as many Bay-Staters as possible can enjoy the newest and most interesting products the industry has to offer. The MBA and its member distributors are proud partners of the consumer driven Website/Network World Class Beer, visit us at www.WorldClassBeer.com.