Remarkable Liquids, an Albany, N.Y.-based craft wholesaler, is set to introduce a new importing arm, one that Matt Hartman, a partner with the company, calls “just an extension” of what it’s been doing since launching in July, 2012. Remarkable Liquids Importing will debut with offerings from Beau’s All Natural, a brewery out of Vankleek Hill, Ontario, and White Hag Brewing, of Sligo, Ireland.
The venture isn’t the company’s first involving foreign brands. Among its 17 current suppliers, Remarkable has existing partnerships with Global Beer Network, a Middleton, Mass.-based importer of Belgian brews, and Brooklyn’s Twelve Percent Imports, which takes on brands from around the world. Nevertheless, Hartman said, he sees voids in the New York market — and beyond — which he envisions Remarkable being able to fill.
Hartman said that while quality will remain paramount in brand selection, there are other factors at play as the company begins swimming in foreign waters, namely, whether a brand brings something new to a table seemingly covered in familiar empties.
“We don’t want to bring in another product that’s going to clutter the shelves,” he said. “We want to bring in a product where there’s a reason for bringing it in.”
That reason, he said, will vary from product to product and be a mostly subjective process, but he sees definite holes in the market, even as it becomes increasingly saturated.
“There are certain things that maybe a certain market might be lacking. In most markets, there are a thousand IPAs right now, but there’s not a lot of people selling gruit beer, not a lot of people thinking smoked beer,” he said. “Are they innovative? What else can they bring to the market as a unique package, what separates them from everybody else?”
While New York is the “crux” of the company’s business — of both its domestic and future imported products — it certainly isn’t the be-all and end-all, Hartman added.
Hartman said the company plans to cull foreign brands that it will first be able to “create a success story” in New York, but with the ultimate goal of extending that reach beyond the state’s borders.
“Everything is kind of cohesive in what we do. We want to bring these brands in a volume we can sell in New York State and get the feedback,” he said. “The plan is certainly — absolutely — to bring them out of state.”
Hartman said the primary business — distributing brands from 15 other craft breweries, cideries, and meaderies — apart from the aforementioned master importers, has been growing by “leaps and bounds.” However, he’s hesitant to pinpoint what percentage of Remarkable’s overall business the importing arm may become.
“I guess the importing is an extension to that, and we don’t really see a cap to it or where it could end up,” he said.
Beyond its importing arm, Remarkable Liquids, nestled in an industrial park with 35,000 sq. ft. at its disposal, has been growing as well.
Though Hartman would not disclose specific figures, he did say the company is “currently on pace” to grow revenue by over 350 percent in 2014. In addition, Remarkable Liquids has what Hartman called a “continually growing” fleet of four trucks and a van with an 18-wheeler on the way.