As beneficial as a distributor relationship can be, for the small, local craft brewer just getting off the ground, self-distribution is the optimal route to take.
But what will your state allow? That’s the $1 million question – or rather the 60,000 barrel (bbl) question – as many states divide up self-distribution privileges by production size. These distinctions are often the same as the state’s definition for “craft brewery,” but even those parameters are sub-divided into smaller amounts allowed for self-distribution.
For a refresher, here is the list of states that have evolved since Prohibition and allow for some self-distribution from small producers. Thanks to the Brewers Association for the complete 50 state round-up
YES to SELF
Arkansas (brewers producing up to 60,000 bblsannually)
Arizona (up to 3,000 bbl under 20,000 bbl production cap; unlimited to same-ownership outlets)
California (No restrictions on production size or on-premise [brewpubs])
Colorado (up to 300,000 gallons per calendar year.)
Illinois (A craft brewer licensee, set at less than 465,000 gallons of beer annually, may self-distribute up to 232,500 gallons per year.)
Indiana (only brewers producing up to 30,000 bbls annually)
Minnesota (only brewers producing up to 25,000 bbls annually)
Montana (a brewer producing up to 60,000 bbls of beer annually).
New Hampshire (brewers producing less than 15,000 bbls can sell up to 5,000 bbls. For brewpubs it is 2,500 bbls).
New Jersey (brewers producing up to 300,000 bbls annually)
New York (distributors permit allows for self distribution up to a capacity of 60,000 bbl. annually. For a brew pub the distribution limit is 3,000 bbl. per year.
North Carolina (a brewery producing less than 25,000 bbls)
Oregon (Brewery licensees can self distribute with no volume restriction. Brewpubs can self distribute if their production is less than 1,000 bbls.)
License to self-distribute: Yes(?)
Texas (Brewers producing less than 75,000 bbls of beer per year.)
Utah (less than 60,000 bbls)
Virginia (a brewery can form a separate distribution company as a distinct legal entity)
Washington (less than 60,000 bbls)