It was an incredible 10-year effort, but beer makers in the Bay State are feeling a little more freedom in 2021. Massachusetts lawmakers voted at the end of 2020 to reform the state’s franchise laws, allowing breweries that produce less than 250,000 bbls of beer (or 3,445,000 cases) over a 12-month period to terminate its relationship with a distributor at any time with 30 days’ notice, while recognizing the beer distributor’s investment in marketing, sales, promotion and inventory. Read more about the incredible effort right here.
Massachusetts has more than 200 breweries across the state, and most of them (excluding Boston Beer because of its size and output) will now have this freedom moving forward. Here’s the Massachusetts Brewers Guild:
Members of the Mass Brewers Guild and the Massachusetts Wholesalers Association worked together to craft legislation Bill S.2841 which creates a new “qualified brewer” definition. This would allow any operation that produces fewer than 250,000 barrels annually a path forward to end their contract with their wholesaler. Under existing law, breweries are held in their contracts in perpetuity until they can prove “cause,” in the court of law – a long and costly process that a craft brewer would unlikely to survive. As a part of the three-tier system, wholesalers are largely responsible for distributing brewers’ products to restaurants, bars, grocery and convenience stores.
The barrelage cap will cover every craft brewery in the state apart from Boston Beer Co., makers of Samuel Adams. For the past 10-years Jim Koch, founder and head brewer of Samuel Adams, and founding member of the Mass Brewers Guild, has led the charge to change the state’s laws to give the hundreds of craft brewers in the Commonwealth the ability to grow their businesses. Wholesalers would not support the proposed legislation without exclusion of Boston Beer. In order to clear the way for the legislation to become law, Boston Beer agreed to be excluded from the benefits of the legislation that will now be enjoyed by all other Mass Brewers Guild Members.
From a press release via the Beer Distributors of Massachusetts:
“The Beer Distributors of Massachusetts expresses its deep appreciation to Governor Baker, Lt. Governor Polito, House Speaker Mariano and Senate President Spilka for their support of this important pro-consumer and pro-business measure,” said William Kelley, President of The Beer Distributors. “This law reflects an agreement reached with the Massachusetts Brewers Guild (MBG) and will facilitate further growth and promote the health of the beer industry across the United States. We are extremely grateful to the leadership of the Massachusetts Brewers Guild and everyone involved in the persistent effort to reach this agreement.”
That’s very big news. Now, here’s some other big distributor and wholesaler news from the around the country…
Yuengling expands into Texas via new Molson Coors joint venture
D.G. Yuengling & Son Inc. just announced the first step in its westward expansion with distribution of its iconic beers into Texas later this year. The expansion is part of a joint venture with the Molson Coors Beverage Co. to increase Yuengling’s reach outside of its 22-state East Coast footprint, providing access to the brewery’s portfolio to millions of beer fans in the Lone Star state. The brewery anticipates rolling out beer to Texas retail locations in the fall of 2021.
“We have heard from consumers all over the country who are excited to enjoy our beer, which is why we’re proud to announce that Texas will be the first western state we’ll be expanding to,” said Wendy Yuengling, chief administrative officer and sixth generation family member, D.G. Yuengling & Son Inc. “We are working hard to ensure our recipes and brewing traditions will be followed to our high-quality standards. We have passionate Yuengling fans in Texas, so we are excited to finally bring them the goods.”
Yuengling’s beers will be brewed locally by Texans at the Molson Coors Ft. Worth brewery. The Yuengling family and its team of brewers are working hand-in-hand with the skilled team at Molson Coors to deliver the rich tradition and quality that is associated with America’s Oldest Brewery.
“We are excited to take the first step in our long-brewing partnership, a step that will provide tremendous growth opportunity for Yuengling and Molson Coors, said Gavin Hattersley, president and CEO of Molson Coors Beverage Co. “By brewing Yuengling’s iconic beer at our world-class Ft. Worth facility, we are going to make a lot of Texans happy.”
This expansion is the first since Yuengling and Molson Coors launched its new long-term brewing relationship — The Yuengling Co. — back in September 2020.
“We are excited to have so many Yuengling fans in the west eager to try our beer and that includes the big demand from Texas beer drinkers. We believe there is a lot of opportunity in Texas and are committed to satisfying every fan with our portfolio of great beers,” said Pat Pikunas, general manager, The Yuengling Co. “Fans can expect to receive the same great tasting Yuengling beers they’ve come to know from our reputation as America’s Oldest brewery.”
The Yuengling Co. will oversee expansion into Texas and any other western markets outside of the Yuengling’s existing 22-state footprint plus any future New England expansion.
Bell’s Brewery goes with Classic Beverage of Southern California after Sheehan purchase
Bell’s Brewery recently announced a new distributor partnership in Southern California. Classic Beverage of Southern California will assume distribution of Bell’s beer after the sale of Craft Beer Guild Distributing of Los Angeles, a Sheehan Family Co.
“We are excited to partner with Classic Beverages in their ambitious plans for Southern California. As a family-owned, fiercely independent craft brewer, we are inspired by CJ’s [Sanchez] passion for his family business and his vision for the future of Classic Beverage of Southern California,” Matt Moberly, Bell’s vice president of sales and marketing, said.
Bell’s customers should see no impact on beer availability. Bell’s remains business partners with other Sheehan Family Co. distributorships within the Midwest and along the East Coast. Bell’s began distributing to Southern California in 2014.
Classic was founded in 1986 by the late Joe Sanchez III. Joe and the Sanchez Family were recommended to Miller Brewing to distribute their brands throughout eastern Los Angeles County because of their strong ties to the community and industrious nature. Joe was able to build a robust business in eastern LA County via superior customer service, and through building great relationships with suppliers and at retail.
Over 30 years later, the industrious and customer service focused spirit of Joe Sanchez is carried on through his son, president of Classic, CJ Sanchez. Via strategic acquisitions, what was once a business operating in roughly half of Los Angeles County, is a business that will expand across nine counties in 2021. In addition to growth from a coverage standpoint, Classic has expanded their portfolio to include a non-alcohol division, spirits division, and has built upon their craft beer division.
It is Classic’s ambition and expectation to be the preferred craft beer purveyor in Southern California, creating an independent route to market for independent craft brewers, and they will realize that ambition through their most recent strategic acquisition of Sheehan’s Craft Beer Guild. Key partnerships with suppliers like Bells, with their best-in-class offerings, bring credibility to this ambition.
Stone Distributing adds celebrated SoCal favorites Societe Brewing and Jiant hard kombucha
In December, Stone Distributing welcomed two new partners to its portfolio. Societe Brewing Co. has begun distribution with Stone, bringing with it a diverse set of hoppy ales including its best seller The Pupil, Belgian-inspired brews, lagers, dark beers and wine-barrel aged sours. And Los Angeles-based Jiant joins the portfolio as well with its unique line of shelf-stable organic, gluten-free hard kombucha.
Societe Brewing is one of San Diego’s most esteemed breweries, founded in 2012 on the principles of eccentric brewing philosophies, uncompromising beer, and the mission to unite. In 2020, Societe introduced a canning line and quality control department to further refine its craft and deliver great beers to more fans. Its next step to growth was to fill the Southern California distribution footprint.
Jiant approaches its hard kombucha with a commitment to responsibly sourcing organic ingredients and producing refreshing beverages that are low in sugar, gluten free, clean and full of flavor. Jiant was founded on a mission to create a better-for-you alcoholic beverage that’s enjoyable to drink. Its lineup includes unique flavor profiles at only 4.5 percent ABV like their flagship, The Original, brewed with passion fruit and elderflower.
“At Stone Distributing, we’re really selective in our partners,” explained Dan Lamb, Stone Brewing chief commercial officer. “We get to carry only the finest craft beverages and retailers recognize that. Our sales are outpacing growth of the craft market in Southern California. We’re very serious about making this organization a powerhouse in SoCal with only the best beverages and the very best people. We consider ourselves lucky to bring Societe and Jiant along on that ride.”
In the Stone Distributing portfolio, Societe beers and Jiant’s hard kombuchas will now make their way into chain retailers as well as a robust network of accounts throughout Southern California. Stone Distributing covers the seven counties of Southern California, hitting more than 200,000 points of distribution. Its portfolio includes the likes of Modern Times, Russian River, AleSmith, Boochcraft, Pizza Port Brewing, Oskar Blues, Cigar City and now the highly respected, Societe and Jiant.
Stone Distributing Co. prides itself in being more than a few warehouses, a fleet of trucks and sales team pushing beers. The distributor partners with like-minded suppliers who are committed to quality and ensures their stories are told. Stone Distributing was founded in 1999 when large distribution companies wouldn’t take on smaller breweries. Stone’s founders opted not to back down, creating a company of their own. Today, Stone Distributing is the largest independent craft beer distributor in SoCal, and still hustling for the “little guys.”
More NoDa Brewing beer can be enjoyed in eastern North Carolina now
NoDa Brewing Co. recently announced another expansion, adding additional territory in the eastern region of North Carolina. Partnering with Coastal Beverage Co., NoDa Brewing brands will be available in all of eastern N.C. including the Crystal Coast, Goldsboro, Greenville, Jacksonville, New Bern, the Outer Banks, Roanoke Rapids, Rocky Mount and Wilmington.
“Coastal Beverage Company is extremely excited to bring NoDa Brewing Company to eastern North Carolina,” said Tee Nunnelee, president of Coastal Beverage. “As an organization, we are always looking for opportunities to represent and distribute brands viewed as first choice by consumers and retailers. The addition of NoDa to our current portfolio will accomplish that. Todd and Suzie Ford have created a company and culture that closely align with the goals of Coastal. Any distributor would be honored to carry their brands. We are humbled by this opportunity and responsibility. Our team will work incredibly hard to make sure the vision Todd and Suzie have for NoDa is executed in eastern North Carolina.”
“We have waited nine long years to add distribution to eastern North Carolina,”said Todd Ford, founder/co-owner of NoDa Brewing Co. “That makes this announcement especially exciting for me and the rest of the NoDa Brewing team. We know that we have found the best partner in Coastal Beverage to bring our beer to the folks who live in one of NC’s most beautiful areas.”
NoDa Brewing Co. will enter the eastern Carolina market in February 2021 with its World Beer Cup American IPA Gold Medal winner, Hop Drop ‘N Roll and also notable beers Radio Haze Juicy/Hazy IPA, Jam Session Pale Ale, CAVU Blonde Ale, Great American Beer Festival Silver medal winner Coco Loco Porter and more. Draft and 16-oz canned four-packs will be available for all year-round brands and select seasonals.
Bent Water Brewing is entering Rhode Island with its flagship brews
Bent Water Brewing Co. is celebrating the new year with a big announcement: It will soon be distributing to Rhode Island. The Lynn, Mass. based brewery is currently available in the states of Massachusetts, Florida, New Hampshire, and Pennsylvania. Rhode Island will become the fifth state to sell Bent Water beer, and the third new state to carry Bent Water’s beers in the last six months.
“Making our beers readily available for consumers has always been one of the top priorities of the brewery,” said Aaron Reames, cofounder and president of Bent Water Brewing. “Given our location in Massachusetts and proximity to Rhode Island, we felt it was overdue to make our beers easily accessible to our neighbors in the Ocean State.”
Bent Water Brewing will be distributed in Rhode Island by McLaughlin & Moran, a third-generation family owned and operated company with relationships throughout the state. Bent Water will enter the Ocean State with its three most popular flagship beers: Sluice Juice, a New England IPA; Thunder Funk, a West Coast-style IPA; and Double Thunder Funk, a West Coast-style DIPA that is referred to as the big sibling of Thunder Funk.
Sluice Juice and Thunder Funk were recently awarded rankings of 94 and 95 respectively from noted beer and spirits publication, Wine Enthusiast, which categorizes both beers as “superb.”
“New England is considered the birthplace of the Hazy IPA, and each state has their own claim to that title,” continued Reames. “We know Rhode Island has some top tier IPA-makers like Tilted Barn, Proclamation Ales, and Long Live Beerworks. We’re excited to see how people think we stack up!”
Wise Man Brewing adds distribution in South Carolina
Wise Man Brewing recently announced plans to expand availability of its award-winning craft beer into the South Carolina market beginning in 2021. Wise Man will enter the Fort Mill/Rock Hill, Greenville/Spartanburg, Columbia and Charleston markets with a full lineup of flagship and seasonal beers distributed through Cold Craft Beverage Partners.
“We are excited about entering the South Carolina craft beer market and the potential it brings for our brand,” said Scott McWhorter, director of commercial operations with Wise Man Brewing. “We have known that we wanted to share our products outside of North Carolina for some time. Having lived in South Carolina and frequently visited friends, I have watched the craft beer culture grow in South Carolina and feel people will quickly embrace the Wise Man brand. With Cold Craft Beverage Partners, we have a partner that shares our vision on growth and expansion.”
Roll out of Wise Man products will begin in late January and will be seen in the Upstate, Rock Hill and Columbia markets first with Charleston and other areas to follow in the second quarter of 2021.