Utah Brewers Cooperative Finds Big Gains Away from Home

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Home may be where the heart is, but the Utah Brewers Cooperative is beginning to feel the love elsewhere.

In the 14 states where it distributes outside of its home market, the company, comprised of Wasatch Brewery and Squatters Craft Beers, saw 2014 sales surge by 73 percent.

That figure towers over the 11 percent growth that the company achieved in Utah. Squatters founder Peter Cole says the difference is due to the company’s already strong foothold in the state.

“Eleven percent is somewhat tame by current standards, but I think it’s a pretty good increase for us where we’re in a market where we’re incredibly well established in and have penetration in,” he said. “We’re trying to do a really good job of deepening our presence and penetration in the states that we’re in rather than just taking on additional states.”

Formed by Wasatch and Squatters — which had previously operated independent of one another — in 2000, the company started really growing its out-of-state expansion about three years ago, Cole said, after first going out of state in 2002.

In all, the company, which sold a majority interest in 2012 to Boston-based Fireman Capital Partners, closed out the year, with sales growing 18 percent overall, to 52,000 barrels. Cole estimates a 50-50 split in sales between the two brands.

Despite the recent surge into new territories, the company, which spent its first quarter century selling mostly in Utah, isn’t rushing to cover the map.

“It’s not our intention to be in every state,” said Cole.

There are plans, however, to return to Idaho and launch distribution in Oklahoma for the first time this summer.

Like many others, Wasatch and Squatters rode the wave of the IPA in 2014, as the top selling Ghostrider White IPA, a Wasatch branded beer, and Squatters Hop Rising Double IPA were the primary drivers of growth.

Next week the company plans to announce the release of a rye IPA dubbed Takeout — an ode to curling vernacular. Early projections peg the company growing 34 percent in 2015, to 70,000 barrels.

“We’re poised for growth. In 2014 we improved efficiencies, added fermentation tanks and focused on people, doubling our crew,” said Greg Schirf, founder of Wasatch. “There’s a confidence we can reach our goals with existing capacities.”

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