Wirtz Beverage Illinois Signs 5th Craft Brand, BuckleDown Brewing

Chicago-based wine, spirits and newly minted craft beer wholesaler, Wirtz Beverage Illinois, yesterday announced a new distribution agreement with BuckleDown Brewing.

BuckleDown Brewing, which is located 20 minutes west of Chicago in Lyons, IL., is the fifth craft brand to sign on with Wirtz. BuckleDown is also first the Chicago-area craft brand to join a growing portfolio that already includes Deschutes Brewery, Ballast Point Brewing, Greenbush Brewing and Vanberg & DeWulf.

Wirtz, which began selling craft beer throughout Illinois when it launched the Deschutes brand in January, said it is excited to add another brand to its book.

“BuckleDown is young and hungry, and they are making really great beers,” Amy Gasca, director of craft beer sales for Wirtz Beverage Illinois said in a press statement. “They are willing and excited to try new things whether it’s a unique recipe or a completely different market approach.”

Founded by Ike Orcutt and Sean Mahoney in January 2013, BuckleDown Brewing is currently test brewing batches of beer, under contract, at Haymarket Pub & Brewery while it waits on the delivery of a 15-barrel brewhouse.

“It is being fabricated right now and we will hopefully receive it in the next four-to-five weeks,” said Mahoney. “We are currently building out our brewery and taproom space.”

BuckleDown’s Brewery will initially be capable of producing 1,000 barrels of beer annually and the space is capable of being scaled to over 10,000 barrels, Mahoney said.

The company plans to launch four year-round draft offerings — Fiddlesticks Belgian-style IPA, Belt & Suspenders American IPA, Shady Aftermath robust porter and Mirth, a Belgian-style single — in the Chicago market on November 1. Mahoney said the company will remain in a draft-only business model for at least six months, at which point the company will consider packaging in cans.

“We want to get the right amount of volume out there, target the right 50 or 60 draft accounts in the Chicagoland area and properly satisfy the demand,” said Mahoney.

Mahoney said Wirtz’ commitment to only distributing high-quality craft beer brands is what attracted him to the new wholesale partnership.

“Wirtz only distributes for a few suppliers that make great beer,” he said. “It’s a great group to be shoulder to shoulder with, and the Wirtz craft beer team is very passionate. We’re looking forward to growing together with them.”

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