The Longmont, Colo.-based craft brewery — which also owns and operates a secondary production facility in Brevard, NC — today announced plans to get more aggressive with its distribution efforts in 2014 and, to start the year, Oskar Blues said will expand into five new states while it increases its reach in underdeveloped areas of existing markets like southern Alabama.
On Jan. 14, the company will re-enter Idaho — a market that it exited in 2010 due to capacity constraints — with Craig Stein Beverage. Oskar Blues said it also plans open Minnesota, Kansas, Nevada and Delaware during the first three months of 2014.
Chad Melis, a spokesperson for Oskar Blues, said the company has signed an agreement with the Original Gravity group of craft beer distributors in Minnesota but said that it is still performing due-diligence in the Kansas, Nevada and Delaware markets. The company is also currently assessing its wholesale options In southern Alabama.
The addition of the new territories is part of a plan to increase production between 160,000 barrels and 180,000 barrels in 2014 — up from the 119,000 barrels it brewed last year.
“It feels like a long way off, and we will have to monitor it, but we are being aggressive with our sales staff,” said Melis. “I think we can execute in our current markets as well as these new ones to achieve the kinds of distribution goals we have set.”
Spearheading the ramped-up distribution efforts is a pair of former Yuengling executives. Christopher Russell, Oskar Blues’ director of business development, and Lou Romano, the company’s newly hired national sales director, have played key roles in developing a list of potential new markets, Melis said.
“Lou (Romano) joined the company at a key time of the year when we were planning for our annual business meetings,” Melis said. “He and Chris have worked together to create our target list for 2014.”
To grow sales, Melis said the strategy will be to continue executing behind the company’s core offerings like Dale’s Pale Ale and Mama’s Little Yella Pils.
“We really try to keep the strategy simple and focused,” he said. “We are continuing to create better distribution on those core packages.”
Earning additional points of distribution might become more difficult in 2014 — the craft beer category has grown to more than 2,700 breweries. Melis, however, said the company isn’t too concerned.
“There is an aggressive element to the Oskar Blues culture, our goals and what we want to accomplish,” he said. “We aren’t necessarily aggressive in a specific sales strategy but rather ambitious. We like to go into a new market and create healthy competition.”