New Capacity Enables Craft Brewers to Expand Distribution

With capacity constraints now in the rearview mirrors at many top-50 craft breweries, there’s a bit of land grab occurring amongst the country’s largest producers.

In the last month, breweries like Dogfish Head, New Belgium and Victory Brewing have announced plans to expand their distribution footprints. All three breweries also recently added new capacity, enabling them start venturing into new markets.

This week, another crop of established craft breweries said they are looking to grow. San Diego’s Green Flash Brewing announced its intent to become a national brand by 2014.

“For the most part it looks like we will be national before the end of the year,” said Jim Kenny, Green Flash’s vice president of sales.

The brewery will look to enter all 50 states with the exception of Hawaii — and Kenny said the company is even evaluating ways to ship a consistent supply of fresh, refrigerated beer to the islands.

“With the addition of new fermentation space, we can now produce at a 100,000-barrel rate and that allows us to enter these states and start seeding our brand,” he said.

Kenny said a second production facility located in Virginia Beach is scheduled to open in January, 2015 and will help support the growth of the brand.

Fresh off its own brewery expansion, Stone Brewing also announced plans to expand its footprint into Nebraska next month. Stone — the country’s tenth largest craft brewery — will enter the cornhusker state on August 20 with four distributors: Double Eagle Beverage, Eagle Beverage, H & H Distributing and Quality Brands of Omaha.

“Nebraska has long been a state that has expressed interest in having our beers available in their local establishments,” Jason Armstrong, Stone Brewing’s director of national sales said in a press statement. “Our Nebraska fans have been very active on social media and telling us at beer festivals how much they want Stone beer in their state.”

Also expanding its reach later this month is Atlanta-based Sweetwater Brewing. The company will enter Northern Kentucky on July 31 with Kentucky Eagle Distributors as its wholesaler partner in Lexington, and Chas. Seligman Distributing Company in Northern Kentucky. It’s the first new state the company has opened since 2008 and comes on the heels of a $19 million expansion.

“It has been incredible to see our brand resonate and gain traction in an organic footprint over the last several years, but now that our brewery expansion is complete, we’re kicking off some major growth into new states and we’re excited that Kentucky is among the first,” Dave Guender, Sweetwater’s director of sales said in a press release.

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