Brewery Direct, in a partnership with SBS Foods Inc., is expanding into the Pacific Northwest, Montana and Alaska to supply malted grains, hops, yeast and specialty ingredients to breweries in the region (close to 1,000 craft breweries). Brewery Direct, founded as a division of San Antonio-based Johnson Brothers Bakery Supply Inc., announced partnerships in 2018 with baking supply companies in the Northeast, Upper Midwest and Ontario, Canada, expanding their businesses to serve breweries in those distribution territories.
Johnson Brothers discovered that many of the ingredients they carried for bakeries were specialty ingredients small- to mid-size breweries needed for specialty brews, including fruit purees and sugars. It wasn’t much of a leap to add quality brewing malts from Germany. That has been especially important for small brewers and craft distillers who need just-in-time delivery because they have limited temperature-controlled storage space for raw ingredients.
“All the overhead is covered through our baking supply business, which allows us to hit the brewery market. We already were driving right by the breweries, and the commonalities are grains and food and yeast,” said Kevin Johnson, CEO of Johnson Brothers Bakery Supply and Brewery Direct. “The quality of the individual service we give to our customers is a huge factor. It is why Johnson Brothers has been successful for 25 years.”
Christopher Hicks, owner of SBS Foods, said the breweries in his area would love the weekly deliveries and personalized service they can’t get from their current suppliers. “A lot of these breweries buy in larger quantities just to manage their freight costs,” Hicks said. “The service we can provide fills a void in the market.”
Hicks said the plan is to start with breweries in Spokane and the Idaho panhandle then work outward to the rest of Washington and into Oregon, Montana and Alaska.
To expand Brewery Direct, Johnson and Vice President Jesse R. Reyes, sought partnerships with regional baking supply companies with the same commitment to customer service. Each offers customized service with free shipping for any volume of ingredients. In addition to SBS Foods, the other companies that joined Brewery Direct were A. Oliveri & Sons (New York’s Tri-State area), Valley Brewery Supply (Wisconsin, northern Illinois, Chicagoland, the Minneapolis area and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula) and Traynor Bakery Wholesale Ltd. of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.
Brewery Direct expects to add more partnerships this year.