With exactly one zillion breweries operating across America, distribution news is always a steady constant in the CBB mailbox. Every week, we get virtual piles of announcements on new alliances, upcoming state expansions and even reductions from breweries growing and shrinking their distribution footprints. Here is some of that wholesaler news. Enjoy! If you have distribution news, send it to [email protected].
Athletic Brewing’s flagship NA brews available at a 1,000 Buffalo Wild Wings nationwide
Athletic Brewing Co., America’s leading brewer of non-alcoholic craft beer, recently announced an on-premise partnership with Buffalo Wild Wings. This summer, over 1,000 Buffalo Wild Wings locations nationwide will carry Athletics’ award-winning flagship beers — Run Wild IPA and Upside Dawn — in cans.
As the country’s fastest-growing brewery for two years in a row, in the beer industry’s fastest-growing segment, Athletic became the country’s 27th largest craft brewery in 2021 as demand from mindful drinkers looking to shift away from alcohol without compromising quality continued to surge. Co-founders Bill Shufelt and John Walker were the first to bring innovation to the non-alcoholic beer category after almost 30 years with little to none in the segment.
“Great sports and great food just go better with a great beer,” said Jason Murphy, director of beverage strategy and innovation at Buffalo Wild Wings. “We’ve noticed many of our patrons looking for non-alcoholic options more than ever before and they are looking for a beer that lets them socialize, share a meal, and enjoy the game with family and friends without alcohol. We know that having Athletic on the menu at B-Dubs will really enhance the experience for some of our fans.”
The non-alcoholic segment is the fastest-growing within beer. Global non-alcoholic beer sales were $16.65B in 2021, with a 10.3 percent CAGR, and are forecasted to rise to $23.27B by 2025. Athletic currently holds a 45 percent share in the craft non-alcoholic beer category and about an 8 percent share of the overall U.S. non-alcoholic beer category.
“Great food, great beer and great sports make any occasion better,” said Bill Shufelt, cofounder of Athletic Brewing. “It’s great to see Buffalo Wild Wings make Athletic beers available nationwide to support consumer demand.”
To keep up with surging demand, Athletic will open the world’s largest non-alcoholic brewery later this year in addition to its existing breweries in Stratford, Conn., and San Diego, Calif. In 2021, just four years after its start, Athletic Brewing surpassed 100,000 bbls, something only a few dozen of the nation’s thousands of other craft breweries have achieved.
Philly’s Evil Genius heads to Ohio and Michigan as part of a nationwide expansion
After fervent success in the Northeast, Evil Genius Beer Co. will expand distribution into eastern and central Ohio as well as Michigan’s Lower Peninsula this May, the first step in the company’s nationwide expansion plans.
Evil Genius Beer inked a deal with the Ohio-based Superior Beverage Group. Superior, a privately-held company with 100 years of experience, will begin representing the brand in key Ohio markets this month including the cities of Cleveland and Columbus.
In Michigan, Evil Genius has partnered with a multitude of wholesale partners. Eastown Distributing and O&W Distributing will be representing the brand in the southeast portion of the state including the Detroit and Ann Arbor metro areas respectively. IHS Distributing will be adding the brand to its portfolio in southwestern Michigan including Kalamazoo. The central eastern counties will be served by J.P. O’Sullivan and will include the cities of Flint and Saginaw. Alpena Beverage Co. will be the wholesaler in the northeast between Gladwin and Presque Isle.
Evil Genius Beer Co., founded in 2011, prides itself on its “Very Silly Names for Very Serious Beers” and have quickly become recognized for its witty beer names often citing fan-favorite movie quotes, hilarious memes and timeless song lyrics.
“Our goal is to provide an entirely new category of beer to the masses. Beer that not only delivers a great taste but also evokes positive, nostalgic memories that make you feel good,” said Evil Genius Cofounder Luke Bowen. “We’ve been amazed at the response we’ve had over the past ten years and can’t wait to introduce Evil Genius to new drinkers across the country.”
Bowen said, “We’ve had a lot of people asking for us to come to their state and we’re now at the stage that we can happily oblige them. We’re stoked to get on the shelves and into their hands.”
Evil Genius Cofounder Trevor Hayward added: “Ohio and Michigan are home to some awesome beer drinking cities that are full of customers who have always wanted to try our beer. Hailing from PA, Ohio and Michigan make sense to kick off our westward expansion.”
Since its inception, Evil Genius has released over 30 uniquely named and flavored brews that have become some of the most sought after beers in the Northeast including: Stacy’s Mom, a Citra IPA, Purple Monkey Dishwasher, its chocolate peanut butter porter, and There’s No Crying in Baseball, a hazy mango IPA. All of which are slated for the brand’s initial rollout to Ohio and Michigan this month. After these first three releases, select markets will also start to get Adulting, a guava-infused IPA.
Evil Genius Beer should have already hit shelves in Ohio’s metropolitan areas and surrounding suburbs and will be available in Michigan shortly thereafter over Memorial Day Weekend. In addition to independent bottle shops, Evil Genius will be available in Acme Fresh Market, Buehler’s Fresh Foods, Giant-Eagle and Discount Drug Mart. The brand plans to expand into more regional hotspots throughout the United States in 2022.
Living The Dream Brewing partners with Colorado Craft for statewide distro
After consecutive record-breaking sales years and new beer additions to its year-round lineup, Living The Dream will join Colorado Craft’s portfolio of independent beverage brands distributed up and down the Front Range, as well as Steamboat, Aspen, Crested Butte, Salida, Gunnison, Telluride, Grand Junction and Durango. Living The Dream’s flagship beers including Powder Run Vanilla Cream Ale, 7-Speed IPA, Mountain Drive American Ale and Fly Reel Amber Ale will be joined by a rotation of beers including Arapahaze Double IPA, Guava Mountain Gose, Backcountry Wilderness Wheat and others in the Colorado Craft portfolio.
“We’ve admired and enjoyed these beers for many years now,” says Tom Jasko of Colorado Craft Distributors. “The opportunity to work with them is like we’re actually living the dream. Our companies have a synergy that mirrors our paths for growth and is a win for everyone involved from production to retail to customer.”
Living the Dream Brewing is a craft brewery established in 2014 in Littleton, home base for adventure in Colorado. Built on a foundation of brewing beer using only the finest ingredients, Living the Dream celebrates the people, places, and activities of the Centennial State.
New York’s Captain Lawrence Freshchester Pale Ale is launching in Sweden
Captain Lawrence Brewing Co. recently announced that Freshchester Pale Ale will now be widely available in Sweden. The New York state brewery won the highly desired Pale Ale tender for system-wide availability with Systembolaget. Freshchester Pale Ale is an aromatic, well-balanced pale ale with notes of citrus, pine, a touch of bitterness and a solid malt backbone to bring it all together.
Captain Lawrence Founder and Brewmaster Scott Vaccaro said: “It is an honor to have Freshchester Pale Ale served in Sweden. This beer is near and dear to us, being one of the first styles I ever brewed in my professional career and really the first beer to put us on the map back home. We trust the inviting aromas of citrus-laden US hops intertwined with a balanced malt backbone will delight the drinkers of Sweden. Pairs well with fried herring.”
Jake Collier, head of sales and distribution at Crafted Exports, commented: “It’s great to see Captain Lawrence win another tender in Sweden. The win is fully deserved, and we hope the Swedish consumers love this classic Pale Ale as much as we do.”
“We are so happy that Captain Lawrence Freshchester Pale Ale is launching into Systembolaget in June,” shared Andrew Reed, craft beer brand manager for Galatea AB. “Scott’s beers have had a near-constant presence in Sweden for five years and once again, because of the high quality of the Captain Lawrence brews, he has gotten another important win. This Pale Ale is so well balanced and drinkable, we hope the Swedish craft beer drinkers fall in love it.”
Freshchester Pale Ale officially launches June 2022 in Sweden throughout Systembolaget. Freshchester will also be featured on draft in select bars and restaurants across the country.
Systembolaget is the Swedish government-owned chain whose retail stores are the only ones in the country allowed to sell alcoholic beverages containing more than 3.5 percent alcohol, for take-home consumption. Within the Systembolaget there are several levels of availability. Some products are in the “ordering range” or beställningssortimentet — orderable to stores but not stocked. Then there are seven levels of availability in the chain of over 450 stores nationwide — T9, T7, T5, T3, T2, T1 and BASE. The lower the number, the greater the availability, with a “BASE” availability meaning that the product is available in all or virtually all Systembolaget stores.
Captain Lawrence Brewing Co. is located just a short drive north of New York City, in Westchester County, N.Y., where it is the area’s largest craft brewery, producing over 28,000 bbls of beer annually. Founded in 2006 by Scott Vaccaro, Captain Lawrence brews a wide range of beer styles, producing as many as one hundred brands in a year. Shortly after opening, the brewery began to gain widespread notoriety for their sour and barrel-aged beers, winning their first of eight GABF medals in 2007. Today, in addition to their award-winning sour beers, Captain Lawrence is widely known for brewing extremely Fresh IPAs, highly drinkable lagers and a variety of specialty craft beers.
Washington’s Trap Door Brewery to open taproom in Washougal, signs statewide distribution deal
Trap Door Brewing, a popular establishment credited with helping revive Vancouver, Wash.’s Uptown Village, is positioning itself for heady growth by expanding to downtown Washougal and distributing its popular brews statewide.
Trap Door owners Bryan Shull and Michael Parsons will open The Gateway, a family-friendly taproom, full bar with upscale drinks, local wine, limited cocktail menu and kitchen, and eventual full-production brewery at 1834 Main Street in downtown Washougal. A mid-late summer grand opening is expected for the 6,500 sq-ft facility which will allow Trap Door to quintuple brewing capacity over the next five years.
“We enjoy being a part of the revival of uptown village in Vancouver, and we want to create that same experience on Main Street in Washougal,” said Bryan Shull, Trap Door’s founder. The Gateway name is in keeping with Washougal’s geographic position as the gateway to the scenic Columbia River gorge. Shull said Trap Door principals have taken ownership of the century-old building which was converted into a brewery by a prior owner and operator.
Additionally, Trap Door has partnered with Kendall’s Pioneer and Browar Polska to distribute its popular products across the state. Case and keg distribution will include 2019 state-champion Glowed Up Hazy IPA (6.8 percent ABV), along with Porch Beer Pale Ale (5.3 percent ABV), Trap Door IPA (6.4 percent ABV), a Mexican lager and seasonal choices.
Shull said it was particularly gratifying to sign a distribution agreement with Kendall’s because his wife and family have long-standing connections to the Ridgefield area where Kendall’s and its parent Corwin Beverage Co. are based.
“Kendall’s first was a purveyor, supplying us with soda, kombucha and wine,” he said. “They kept showing up on time, they had product and their consistency really stood out. So, I approached Kendall’s. I’m now thrilled to have my products sitting on shelves or on tap alongside other outstanding local independent craft brews in their distribution book.”
Shull said Trap Door will pursue many initiatives in Washougal as it has in Vancouver, including a program offering 360 backpacks filled with school supplies for underprivileged students, participation in community events and continuing its popular Founders Club for lifetime customers.
“We will be engaged in the communities we serve. We are committed to taking care of the people who take care of us,” he noted.
Shull gave up a career in renewable energy a decade ago to become a third generation involved in the brewing industry. His father and grandfather enjoyed careers with Great Western Malting in Vancouver, a primary source for Trap Door’s malt and hops. Shull sources about 90 percent of ingredients locally.
“Trap Door is an outstanding local independent craft brewer whose products are excellent and whose beers already have a following,” said Sam Madrid, COO of Corwin Beverage Co. “We look forward to distributing for another small independent owner.”
Trap Door Brewing was formed as a community-driven brewer in 2015 by Bryan Shull who is carrying beer making into a third generation. Trap Door operates a taproom and 15-bbl brewery at 2315 Main Street in Vancouver’s Uptown Village in Vancouver, Wash., where it produces about 1,000 bbls of beer annually. It plans to open a second taproom and brewery in summer 2022 at 1834 Main Street in Washougal, Wash.