Beginning in the early part of 2012, North American Breweries (NAB) will begin distributing the Magic Hat No. 9 brand in Canada — a move they say was a logical choice given the location of their Rochester, NY brewing facility.
“The number of inquiries we have gotten from Canadian consumers has been phenomenal,” said NAB’s export director Peter Grant. “We thought the timing was right and we found a great partner in Brick Brewing.”
Grant describes the decision to export into Canada as a ‘natural fit,’ citing the country’s own ‘craft beer renaissance’ as motivation.
“Brick (Brewing) is looking for long term sustainable growth with our brand,” said Grant.
George Croft, the President and CEO of Brick Brewing had similar comments.
Croft said they will launch No. 9 before investigating other opportunities with additional NAB brands such as Pyramid. And Grant thinks Pyramid could be the next logical NAB brand to introduce.
“As you head west in Canada there is no reason why Pyramid wouldn’t be a good fit,” he said.
According to Mark Snyder, the Brewers Association Export Development Program Manager, Beerthirst and the AFIC Group import a majority of the U.S. craft beer into Canada. Those two groups are responsible for importing a combined 24 U.S. craft brands according to their websites. Interestingly enough, according to the AFIC website, the group already distributes the Pyramid brand.
“The import business, with regards to US craft, is under-developed here in Canada,” Croft said. “But the craft business in Canada is growing strongly and much like the U.S., there are craft breweries popping up every day.”
Brick Brewing, based in Ontario is currently the 5th largest brewer in Canada and will produce 225,000 hl (roughly 192,000 barrels) of beer in 2011.Croft painted a picture of the beer landscape in Canada. He estimates that 25 percent of the market share belongs to craft and premium imports. He also believes that ‘value brands’ represent 40 percent of the market share.
Grant confirmed that NAB is looking into other countries for export opportunities but could not comment on which ones.