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].
Whole Foods is highlighting NA beer maker Surreal Brewing at 450 stores nationwide
Surreal Brewing recently announced its latest partnership with Whole Foods Market, the world’s leading natural and organic foods retailer. As one of the first innovators in this space and one of the first companies solely dedicated to non-alcoholic craft beer, Surreal Brewing is being highlighted in 450 Whole Foods Market stores nationwide as an on-trend, innovative company and for being woman-owned. Starting June 1 to July 5, 2022, customers and craft beer lovers will be able to grab their favorite Surreal Brewing four-packs for $7.99 to $8.49.
Surreal dares to be different by cutting sugar out of its beverages. Meeting Whole Foods Market’s rigorous quality standards, which prohibit hydrogenated fats, high-fructose corn syrup and more than 150 flavors, colors, sweeteners and other ingredients commonly found in food, Surreal Brewing’s core lineup of all-natural, non-GMO, NA craft beers offer health-forward options that are low-calorie, low-carb, and contain zero-sugar, including two two-gluten reduced options.
The U.S. non-alcoholic beer market is increasing 30 percent YOY and is on track to grow to $6 billion by 2025.
“Whole Foods Market is a beacon for healthy options” said Cofounder Donna Hockey. “We are stoked to be highlighted by this amazing retailer for being an innovator in the non-alcoholic beverage space and bringing to the market a surreal, delicious, health-forward craft beer without the negative effects of alcohol.”
Awarded 2019 World’s Best Low & Non-alcoholic Pale Beer, Natural Bridges Kolsch Style NA (Calories-17, Sugar- 0g, Carbs – 2.8g, gluten reduced) has a delicate malty character with a hint of honeydew melon and a crisp, refreshing finish. Winning Silver at the 2020 World Beer Awards, the Juicy Mavs Hazy IPA bursts with tropical fruit and citrus character, accentuated by fruity yeast esters and a subtle, clean malt finish.
Founded in Campbell, California by husband and wife team, Tammer Zein-El-Abedein and Donna Hockey, Surreal Brewing aims to fill a void in the marketplace with a variety of great-tasting non-alcoholic beverages. Surreal Brewing brings forth a new era in which health-conscious and sober individuals can still enjoy the unique, crisp flavor of beer anytime while maintaining their health goals and feeling included at social gatherings. For more information, please visit www.surrealbrewing.com
Harlem Blue launches cans and distribution in New York City
During the Prohibition Era, there was a brownstone speakeasy in Harlem that made its own house beer in the basement. Whenever a new keg was tapped, they’d put on the blue light out front to let everyone know. This story of bold pride of craft is what inspired Julian Riley to start his beer company, Harlem Blue.
“The pride and energy of beaming a blue light is what anchors everything we do,” says Riley.
Steadfastly brewing for several years now, Harlem Blue has finally released its top-selling craft beers in cans for the first time ever. Celebrating being back just got more colorful, and NYC may have its new beer of the summer.
“There’s before COVID and after COVID,” said Riley, also CEO of Harlem Blue. “Before COVID, we were only available on draft and largely serving bars and restaurants uptown,” as Harlem’s top-selling local craft on draft. Hot spots like Harlem Tavern, Red Rooster, Harlem Hops and Corner Social, couldn’t pour the pints fast enough.
Like many other small breweries, the hospitality shutdown was very challenging. “We couldn’t sell kegs and that was 100% of our business,” said Riley. “So, I chose to overhaul our model, fix things that needed fixing, and re-startup Harlem Blue with the launch of our cans.” As a black man who grew up in the inner city, and now lives and is raising his young family in Harlem, Riley says he started Harlem Blue to appeal to a wider demographic beyond the niche hipster stereotype. “We want to make a bigger tent. More of a casual craft beer, yet known for our flavor.”
“Nowadays, all brands are talking about their purpose and elevated mission statements, and that’s great. We have that too and push every day to be a valuable contributor to our community,” he continued, “but after the last couple years, I want to have a summer where we just focus on fun. Let’s drink good beer, celebrate and appreciate being back.” Riley has often said that Harlem Blue is in the “celebration business.” “I mean we make beer for a living after all,” said the former attorney who seems happy to have traded one bar for another.
Riley started his entrepreneurial road the old-fashioned way. “I depleted all my personal savings, maxed out credit cards, and raised every penny I could from friends and family, to bootstrap this effort. We’re just getting started and I love every sip of it.”
The new 12-oz cans are eye-catching and quickly finding placement throughout New York City. From bars, restaurants and bodegas all across uptown Manhattan, to retailers like Westside Markets, Key Foods, Pioneers, Foodtowns, and soon Wholefoods and Trader Joes. There’s a retailer locator on the website. This summer you can also find Harlem Blue at all five NYC locations of Luke’s Lobster. Plus, the brewery now offers direct-to-home delivery throughout New York and to select other states. The company is working on a Harlem based taproom — with promised updates soon.
Launched in 2016, Harlem Blue is a Harlem-based, locally brewed, premium beer company that seeks to reimagine craft beer to be more inclusive and approachable beyond the niche hipster stereotype. Celebrating the stories that make us special, Harlem Blue is anchored in local authenticity, black-owned, and crafted for the hustle of living in New York City. We grind different. We flow different. It all starts with . . . good beer, from a good place.
Exhibit ‘A’ Brewing launches DTC distribution across Virginia
Award-winning, independent Massachusetts-based craft brewery Exhibit ‘A’ Brewing Co. has launched distribution across the state of Virginia. Through the success of the company’s DTC program in Virginia over the past year, Virginia residents are now able to enjoy Exhibit ‘A’s entire core collection of beers for purchase at retailers including The Casual Pint in Falls Church, Crafthouse in Reston, Department of Beer & Wine in Alexandria, and Total Wine retail stores across the state.
“We are thrilled to be launching a core selection of our beers across the state of Virginia, providing all residents with the opportunity to access some of our award-winning offerings,” said Kelsey Roth, general manager. “In addition to expanding our presence in Virginia over the past year, we’ve really focused our efforts on local sourcing, helping to launch the Northeast Grainshed Alliance and the Square Foot Project, which bring together breweries with farmers, processors, and educators to promote the use of local grains. By expanding our distribution, we hope to further support and grow these small businesses in the Northeast.”
- The Goody Two Shoes: This Kölsch style ale was rated a Perfect 100 by the Bros. at BeerAdvocate. Crisp and clean, with light flavors of lemon, white flour and fresh baked crackers follow into a dry finish (4.5% ABV).
- The Cat’s Meow: Aromas of tangerines and ripe stone fruits in this IPA are followed by flavors of grapefruit peel, fresh navel oranges and light malt sweetness. Smooth finish with a touch of grapefruit bitterness (6.5% ABV).
- Hair Raiser: This double IPA holds a citrus peel hop aroma followed by flavors of citrus zest, grapefruit and hints of mango and peaches. Hop bitterness is balanced by sweet malt with a smooth, full mouthfeel (8.0% ABV).
- Briefcase Porter: Rated 94 by Wine Enthusiast Magazine, this porter satisfies without being heavy. Toasted dark bread and nutty aromas start you off followed by light roasted coffee, dark chocolate and a touch of blackberry for a dry finish (5.4% ABV).
Lakewood Brewing expands distribution with Favorite Brands in Texas
Lakewood Brewing Co. has partnered with Favorite Brands Distributing to expand its reach to stores throughout the state. The family-owned independent craft brewery will now have expanded distribution in Houston, Austin, San Antonio, Waco, College Station and other major central Texas cities. Shelves in stores like HEB, Spec’s, Total Wine & More, Kroger and Whole Foods will now feature Lakewood’s Temptress Imperial Milk Stout, Muy Importante Margarita Lager and Tangerine Queen Citrus Wheat, along with seasonal and limited releases like Lakewood’s popular Seduction Series, Watermelon Queen and the Mechanical Series.
Lakewood came to fame 10 years ago in the DFW area with its Temptress Imperial Milk Stout, which has now solidified itself as the number one selling craft stout in Texas. Temptress is also the base for the brewery’s wildly popular Seduction Series. Today, Lakewood’s beer portfolio includes year-round releases like the fan favorite Muy Importante, a perfect blend of a traditional light Mexican lager and margarita flavors, and Tangerine Queen, a citrus-forward American wheat, as well as seasonal and limited releases.
“Forming this partnership with Favorite Brands, another family-owned brand, is the perfect complement as we take our Texas-made beer to more Texas-made beer fans,” said Wim Bens, founder and president of Lakewood Brewing.
Drawing beer lovers from around the country, Lakewood will debut a slate of updates to its taproom and beer garden this June. New highlights will include Lakewood’s first-ever kitchen, as well as loads of games and other changes to make the destination brewery’s indoor and outdoor spaces a place for families and friends to hang out all day. Overlooking the updated taproom is the new Lakewood Loft, a speakeasy-inspired private event space offering a unique view to Lakewood’s massive working tanks below.
As always, any Lakewood beer can be found using Lakewood’s Find Our Beer tool.
River Styx Brewing signs distribution agreement with Atlantic Beverage Distributors in Massachusetts
River Styx Brewing recently announced that it has selected Atlantic Beverage Distributors of Holliston, Mass., to represent its brand with exclusive distribution rights in the state of Massachusetts. The brewery opened in 2017 with a goal to utilize high quality ingredients to make high-quality beerand attract consumers to our large destination taproom in downtown Fitchburg, Mass. At River Styx, the brew crew enjoys producing different styles of beer with an aim towards balance and big flavor.
“Everyone in Massachusetts should experience the great flavor of our craft beverages, and we are confident that Atlantic is the right partner to help us do it,” said Cofounder Jacqueline Cullen.
The distribution partnership launched on June 13. River Styx will regularly supply a variety of core brands and special releases for restaurants, bars, and retailers throughout Massachusetts. River Styx Brewing was founded in 2017 by craft beer-lovers Scott and Jackie Cullen. Its main priority is to create flavorful malt beverages. The Cullens have created a family and pet friendly tourist destination in the heart of Fitchburg in hopes to contribute to the redevelopment of the city.
Maine’s Austin Street Brewery joins Homegrown for distro in Massachusetts and Rhode Island
Austin Street Brewery, a lauded staple of the Maine craft beer scene, has signed with Homegrown Distribution for statewide supply in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. The brewery, which recently celebrated its eighth anniversary, is positioning itself for emergent growth in the Bay and Ocean States.
“Austin Street is continuing to grow and open new markets,” said Will Fisher, Austin Street’s cofounder and CEO, “[and] our biggest move to date is partnering with Homegrown Distribution.”
Fisher, who launched Austin Street in 2014 with Brewmaster Jake Austin, has attributed the brewery’s success in a crowded market to a “craft above all else” philosophy.
“We’ve always thought if you start with great people, great beer will follow. I believe this opportunity is a testament to not only staying true to our approach, but to the people on either side of the bar that make it happen.”
Homegrown’s President, Brian Murphy, echoed Fisher’s aspirations.
“Austin Street offers highly rated and sought-after beers that Homegrown can provide statewide coverage for throughout the Massachusetts and Rhode Island markets. We know this partnership will be hugely beneficial for both parties and will allow Homegrown to continue to grow and reinvest in our business. Naturally, we are fired up to add [them] to our budding portfolio of awesome New England breweries.”
Case and keg distribution will include, among other brands, Austin Street mainstays such as Neverender double IPA, Florens American IPA, Six Grain milk stout and the brewery’s flagship pale ale Patina. Homegrown Distribution is a craft beer and specialty beverage distributor operating a complete cold-chain service facility. Centrally located in Bellingham, Mass., Homegrown maintains a 40,000-sq-ft refrigerated warehouse, refrigerated vehicle fleet, and a 10-person, in-market dedicated sales force.