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!
CBB fave: CLE’s Market Garden Brewery selects NWO Beverage for northwest Ohio market entry
Market Garden Brewery (MGB) recently reached an agreement with NWO Beverage to begin distribution of its GABF award-winning beers in the Toledo and Northwestern Ohio region. While Market Garden has seen double digit growth every year since its launch into retail distribution in 2016, this marks its first new territory opened since entering Columbus in January 2017.
According to Cofounder Michael Foran: “Our growth has been tremendous in Cleveland and Columbus. My focus for the organization has always been to make sure we provide exemplary beer and attention to these markets first and foremost before expanding into subsequent markets.”
Coming to a decision on a new distribution partner was a process that was not taken lightly by Foran and team.
“I vetted several distributor options for this next big step and felt both comfortable and confident with NWO Beverage having successfully operated in that region for years on both a macro and craft level,” said Foran. “PJ Sullivan’s team is well seasoned to take on our brand and run with it.”
Founded as a taproom and brewpub in 2011 with Brewmaster and Cofounder Andy Tveekrem (formerly of Great Lakes Brewing Co. and Dogfish Head Craft Brewery fame) at the brewing helm, MGB has seen their short-term capacity stretched to its limit throughout 2019, a year where they should reach 8,000 bbls. Foran highlighted that this year he put the focus on making operational changes to its long-term capacity to enable further scaling to not only manage the existing growth trajectory but also for new market entry.
“While we have taken the steady growth approach to dig deeper every year in our existing footprint, on the heels of another great GABF award I felt the peripheral demand was just too great to ignore,” said Foran. “Additionally, being closer to the Detroit and Ann Arbor markets makes sense as we have a growing fanbase and demand in those areas.”
Prosperity Wheat, Tveekrem’s pride and joy and the No. 1 overall volume brand for Market Garden, took home the Gold as America’s Best Hefeweizen last month at Great American Beer Festival — considered the top honor in the beer industry.
“To win at GABF is always such an honor but to do so with your No. 1 brand and in a category as competitive as Hefeweizen enables us to leverage that win every single day,” Foran commented.
A mix of the core bottled and can every day brands like Prosperity Wheat, Citramax IPA as well as seasonal offerings such as the runaway cult favorite Festivus Holiday Ale will hit the Toledo market the week of November 4.
Narragansett expands distribution to the Buckeye State (that’s Ohio)
Iconic New England brewer Narragansett Beer is bringing a taste of Rhode Island to the entire state of Ohio. Rolling out this month with Cavalier Distributing, Narragansett will now offer its award-winning Lager, Fresh Catch, mashup beers and seasonal sessionables at on and off–premise locations throughout the state. After receiving the most requests from ‘Gansett from Ohio in recent years, Narragansett is thrilled to further expand and meet increasing demand from fans in the Buckeye State. Since its revival led by Mark Hellendrung in 2005, Narragansett has experienced successful growth in New Jersey, Philadelphia and the mid-Atlantic markets, now available in 20 states including the District of Columbia.
Recently named one of the top 50 craft breweries in 2018 by the Brewers Association and the 32nd largest craft brewery in the United States, Narragansett Beer offers a collection of premium beers crafted with Rhode Island pride and heritage. Narragansett’s flagship Lager is supported by Light Lager, Fresh Catch, seasonal releases and mashups with beloved regional brands, such as Del’s Lemonade and Autocrat Coffee. In addition to Ohio, Narragansett is distributed in Maryland, Delaware, Georgia, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Florida, New York, New Jersey, Tennessee, South Carolina, Kentucky and Oregon.
Asheville’s Hi-Wire Brewing heads south to Alabama
We’re a little later here, but it’s definitely worth mentioning that Hi-Wire Brewing launched distribution in the entire state of Alabama Tuesday, Oct. 15.
Hi-Wire will be launching Alabama with their entire portfolio, including year-round, seasonal and specialty beer offerings. For distribution, Hi-Wire has partnered with Alabama Crown Distributing Co., a full-service beverage distributor with wholesale operations in Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee, selling imported and domestic spirits, wines, beers and specialty products.
Chris Morgan, regional sales manager for Hi-Wire Brewing noted: “Bringing our beers to another state is always exciting. We get to share some of Asheville with new faces in new places and share what makes our beer culture special in the South. Having been a visitor to Alabama for over 20 years, it has been a craft beer destination for a long time. I think people will easily warm up to Hi-Wire’s vast offerings, whether it’s an easy-drinking lager, a multitude of IPAs or an 8 percent pastry stout. There is always a thirsty person and a welcoming vibe in the state.”
Connecticut’s Thimble Island Brewing connects with Northeast Beverage for local distro
Thimble Island Brewing Co. recently is announced that it has entered a partnership with Northeast Beverage to distribute its products throughout the state of Connecticut. Thimble officially transitioned distribution over to Northeast Beverage on November 4.
“This is an exciting time for Thimble Island Brewing Co.,” said Justin Gargano, founder and CEO at Thimble Island. “We are pleased to strike a long-term relationship with a trusted partner. This change will allow our organization to continue to grow its market share at a healthy and sustainable rate. Our views and approach to distribution are very much aligned. Northeast is forward thinking, and we have the upmost confidence in their ability to expand our brand and provide exceptional service to our customers. In addition, we are very excited that they will be taking on our sales and delivery staff to help expand and promote our brand throughout Connecticut.”
Thimble Island Brewery started in 2010. Today, the company has grown to be the largest self-distributing micro-brewery in Connecticut, with nearly 1,800 on- and off-premise accounts. The company currently offers six staple products in draft, bottles and cans, as well as numerous seasonal and specialty products. Its products can be found throughout the state of Connecticut and in its taproom at 16 Business Park Drive in Branford, Conn.
Gunwhale Ales joins Scout Distribution for expansion into San Diego
Craft beer enthusiasts in southern California get excited. Gunwhale Ales officially announced its signing with Scout Distribution for expansion into the San Diego market. The award-winning brewery recently opened a new production facility and taproom in Orange, Calif.. This new brewhouse and cellar will allow the increase of its annual output initially by 250 percent, enabling the brand to meet demand that previously was limited by capacity at their first location.
Bobby Fitzgerald, Justin Miller and JT Wallace (Gunwhale’s cofounders) share personal connections to the San Diego area. As a native to La Jolla, Fitzgerald has great memories of local brewing culture and his time with the highly decorated homebrewing club QUAFF, where he was a member before launching the brand. Miller and Wallace also lived in San Diego, while doing undergraduate study at Mesa College and SDSU respectively.
Fitzgerald explained: “We very excited to put more product in front of retail partners in my hometown, where my family, friends and colleagues can find it regularly. Previous events and collaborations such as those with Mikkeller San Diego and Pure Project revealed local consumer interest in our approach to beer making. I know how competitive the scene is in this market, but we are first trying to backfill demand we were not able to previously reach. The beers we make are inspired by our experiences of camping, surfing and fishing this coastal region and are built for the lifestyle here. Despite it being a competitive space, we believe we can fit in well with other innovative food and beverage leaders in the area.”
The brewery initially will offer the following beers for the market:
- Bait Ball IPA — 6.6 percent ABV, a modern unfiltered West Coast style IPA with Simcoe, Citra and Mosaic (12-oz cans and draft kegs)
- Hayshaker Saison — 6.4 percent ABV, a dry, rustic and yeast driven farmhouse beer (GABF 2018 Bronze — Classic Saison) (12-oz cans and draft kegs)
- Orangewood Hazy IPA — 6.6 percent ABV, a juicy IPA with Amarillo, Cascade and Citra (16-oz cans and draft kegs)
- Hawaiian Sling Tropical IPA — 6.1 percent ABV, a yeast driven IPA with tropical notes. Mosaic and Motueka (16-oz cans and draft kegs)
- California Cobbler — 7.6 percent ABV, a Rye Farmhouse Ale with peaches and cinnamon, a mixed-fermentation beer barrel-aged for over a year and bottle-conditioned (500-ml bottles)
The company will also offer smaller amounts from its focused portfolio of farmhouse-inspired beers, including barrel-aged, mixed fermentation and wild specialty labels.
Miller added: “We watched as Scout flew out of the gate, strengthened their portfolio and continues to grow very rapidly since opening. They just seemed to understand our brand at its core, and they shared our plan to expand with strict concerns over the quality of our product. We want to grow the Gunwhale brand through creative, balanced and unique beer profiles and are now able to expand our distribution footprint in this rich and vibrant market.”
Colorado’s Cellar West Artisan teams up with Culture Beverage to distribute its farmhouse ales
Award-winning small brewer Cellar West Artisan Ales recently announced a new partnership with Colorado distributor Culture Beverage. After nearly three years of highly limited self-distribution, Cellar West will now service a wider landscape of Centennial State premium accounts with the assistance of Culture.
Culture Beverage represents Shelton Brothers Importers within the state of Colorado, specializing in small beer, cider and mead makers, with rich stories and unique products, from around the world.
“The partnership with Culture Beverage is a step towards getting our award-winning farmhouse-style ales into the hands of more Colorado beer enthusiasts,” said Cellar West’s Owner and Brewer Zach Nichols. “This partnership aligns our brewery with several other artisan beverage producers within the Culture Beverage family. We’re looking forward to working with them and their knowledgeable team to share more of our oak-aged wild ales and saisons.”
“We are really excited to bring on a local producer that shares our passion for terroir driven products,’ said General Manager Xandy Bustamante. “Cellar West is making some of the best beer in Colorado, and we are excited to help introduce them to more bottle shops, restaurants and bars across the state.”
Culture Beverage began distribution of the Shelton Brothers portfolio in early 2019. In the near future they are planning a tasting room in Westminster, Colo., that will allow consumers to experience a wide range of unique, artisan beers from around the world, all of which are distributed by Culture.
Cellar West Artisan Ales opened in Boulder, Colo., in December 2016 with a focus on oak-aged Belgian-style farmhouse ales. Early accolades include a Silver Medal at the 2017 Great American Beer Festival and acknowledgement as one BeerAdvocate’s 50 Best New Breweries the same year. Cellar West moved to an expanded production space and tasting room in Lafayette, Colo., in December 2018 and just earned another Silver for its Westfield at this year’s GABF.
Connecticut Valley Brewing expands distribution to Michigan
Connecticut Valley Brewing Co. recently announced it had partnered with Imperial Beverages to bring their portfolio to the entire state of Michigan. Initial brands will include Trailblazer, Let’s Fly Away, Cosmic Circus, Stargazer, Sherwood and NorthStar Galaxy Peach Seltzer. Look for launch events the week of November 4 (that’s this week!) in Grand Rapids, Mich. That is all!