Sweetwater Brewing is on the move in Alabama again, this time transitioning away from Supreme Beverage, a MillerCoors wholesaler in the Northern part of the state, and into the Anheuser-Busch network.
The Atlanta-based craft brewery said it has instead signed contracts with four new A-B wholesalers — Turner Beverage, Greene Beverage, Valley Budweiser and Shoals Distributing — for coverage north of Birmingham.
The company also assigned distribution rights in eight additional counties to Birmingham Budweiser and Bama Budweiser, a pair of wholesalers it began working with in September after cutting ties with AlaBev (originally called Birmingham Beverage).
In a conversation with Brewbound, Jeff Chassner, the company’s director of new market development, said the brand rights were sold but would not disclose specific terms.
“The opportunity to switch wholesaler presented itself,” he said. “We are always looking for the best distributor partners in every market we are in.”
Although confusing, Sweetwater’s entire realignment effort stems from a 2012 decision to terminate its contract with AlaBev, a Birmingham-based beer wholesaler. After the brewery notified AlaBev of its decision to transition distribution responsibilities over to Supreme Beverage, the wholesaler sued, claiming a breach of contract. At the same time, AlaBev also sued Supreme Beverage for conspiracy, according to AL.com.
Three years and thousands in legal fees later, SweetWater appears to have finally resolved its distribution woes.
“September’s transition to Bama and Birmingham Bud have already proven successful – we launched in Alabama in the 90s, but these new partners have gotten SweetWater onto more retail shelves and bar menus, and into many more craft beer lovers’ hands,” Chassner said in a statement. “Now with their expanded territories, and our four new phenomenal partners, Alabama is primed to be an incredibly strong market for us.”
Here’s what the company’s Alabama distribution footprint looks like now:
- Turner Beverage Co. sells the brand in DeKalb, Jackson, Limestone (with the exception of the city limits of Decatur, AL) and Madison counties.
- Greene Beverage sells the brand in Fayette, Lamar, Pickens and Tuscaloosa counties.
- Birmingham Budweiser sells the brand in Blount, Cherokee, Cullman, Etowah and Marshall counties.
- Valley Budweiser sells the brand in Lawrence, Limestone (city limits of Decatur, AL only), Morgan and Winston counties.
- Shoals Distributing sells the brand in Colbert, Franklin, Lauderdale and Marion counties.
- Bama Budweiser sells the brand in Calhoun, Cleburne and Talladega counties.
In the southern part of the state, Sweetwater products are still sold by a group of three MillerCoors wholesalers — Allstate Beverage Company, Premium Beverage and Gulf Distributing — and there are no current plans to transition those territories into the Anheuser-Busch network, Chassner said.