Though this is Summtynose’s first foray into Arizona, it’s not the first time the company has done business with the founders of Arizona Beer and Cider, Jim and Jason Ebel.
The Ebel brothers have a long history in the beer business, having founded Two Brothers Brewing in Naperville, Ill., and Windy City Distribution, which sells Smuttynose products in Chicago.
When the Ebels sold Windy City to Reyes Beverage in 2012, the two brothers focused most of their attention to brewing. But the itch to get back into the distribution nagged and, in April, the Ebels told Brewbound that they’d be venturing into the Arizona market via a joint partnership with Cavalier Distributing’s George Fisher.
That partnership fizzled and Fisher is no longer involved in the venture, which was originally intended to be named “Cavalier Distributing of Arizona.” The Ebels, however, pushed on with plans to establish a wholesale operation in the state, signing Smuttynose as its first customer.
The decision to sign with an unproven distributor in a new market was an easy one for Smuttynose founder Peter Egelston, who cited his pre-established relationship with the brothers as an impetus for the selection.
“These guys really know how to sell and care for craft beer,” he said in a press statement.
Despite the relationship that was already in place, however, familiarity wasn’t the only factor in Smuttynose’s decision to jump on board with the Ebel brothers’ latest endeavor.
“If the Ebels had asked us two years ago, we would have had to say ‘no,’” said Egelston. “But the capacity and efficiency of our new brewery means we can now say ‘yes.’”
Those capacity constraints he’s referring to limited the company’s production growth to just 4 percent in 2013, when the company sold 42,342 barrels, according to statistics from the Brewers Association. However, the company’s recently completed facility expansion has expanded its production capabilities to about 65,000 barrels annually and enabled the company to take on new markets and growing volumes.
Arizona is the third new market the company has added to its distribution footprint in 2014, having launched in both Tennessee and Texas earlier this year.
The Ebels are also selling their own Two Brothers Brewing product in the state.