Wirtz Beverage Illinois Enters Craft Market With Deschutes, Creates Dedicated Sales Force

CHICAGO, IL — Demonstrating its commitment to and investment in the craft beer business, Wirtz Beverage Illinois (WBI) announced today the appointment of three craft beer specialists as well as a dedicated Craft Beer team. WBI, the state’s oldest and most established alcohol beverage distributor, enters the craft beer market January 2013 through a partnership with Deschutes Brewery.

“We are really excited to bring Deschutes to Illinois. This is one of the best craft beer markets in the country and the anticipation by beer drinkers here is amazing,” said Julian Burzynski, SVP Wirtz Beverage Illinois. “We’re committed to the craft beer business which is why we made investments and recruited the most talented and experienced people to lead our team.”

The WBI Craft Beer team unites beer experts, technicians and sales and brand managers. In addition to supporting the launch and statewide integration of the new brands, the team will also lead education and trade development initiatives as well as all channel, customer and consumer beer-related programs. The newly-appointed craft beer experts include:

David Kahle, Craft Beer Specialist: As one of just six people to earn the title of Master Cicerone, David Kahle is one of the country’s most renowned beer experts. Further accreditations include certificates from the Siebel Institute and World Brewing Academy in Brewing Technology, Sensory Panel Management and Brew Microbiology as well as having an Advanced Draft Tech certificate from the Micro Draft Institute. As Craft Beer Specialist, David’s vast knowledge coupled with his experience in the hospitality industry will contribute significantly to building Deschutes and recruiting new brands to the market.

Phil Kuhl, Craft Beer Specialist: A certified Cicerone, Phil Kuhl joins Wirtz Beverage with nearly ten years experience in the beer industry. His refined palate and discernible knowledge has qualified Phil to act as a judge to a number of beer competitions including the internationally recognized World Beer Awards. He is also a sitting beer judge to the Beverage Tasting Institute, a respected industry review panel. As manager and beer director at some of Chicago’s top beer destinations, Phil was instrumental in developing on-premise programs and events and will apply the same skills to aid WBI beer accounts.

Paul Manning, Craft Beer Brand Manager: A veteran of the industry, Paul Manning brings diverse experience and deep relationships in the marketplace to his position as WBI Craft Beer Manager. His most recent role as New Account Specialist for WBI contributed to his thorough understanding of developing and growing new business opportunities. Previous manager positions have also made him proficient at sales and marketing strategies and meeting volume goals.

Currently, the Craft Beer team is focused on a variety of events to launch the Deschutes portfolio into the marketplace including private tastings and education seminars hosting industry partners and gatekeepers in the company’s revered beverage lab, the Alchemy Room and other beverage-centric locations.

On January 7, 2013 WBI begins statewide distribution of Deschutes highly-lauded brands including Black Butte Porter, the number one selling craft porter; Red Chair Northwest Pale Ale, the World Beer Awards 2012 “World’s Best Beer”; as well as the critically-acclaimed Mirror Pond Pale Ale and consumer-favorite Chainbreaker White IPA.

“We see considerable opportunity in craft beer so we’re making investments,” said Burzynski. “We have great partners, stellar brands, a growing market and now the most qualified team. That’s not by accident.”

About Wirtz Beverage Illinois

Wirtz Beverage Illinois is the state’s most established alcohol beverage distributor with operations statewide serving premium wine, spirits and craft beer brands. The company is an affiliate of Wirtz Beverage Group, one of the nation’s leading alcohol beverage distributors. With nearly $2 billion in annual sales and 2,500 employees, Wirtz Beverage Group has operations in Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Nevada and Wisconsin.