What do you see when you look at a craft beer? Do you see a hobby? An art? A science? A community? All of those would certainly be true, but we at CBB see disruption. Taken together, every pint of beer produced by an independent craft brewing business in this country has contributed to changing the landscape of a $100 billion industry. The success of craft brewing has forced the beer industry’s largest players to combine to form an even larger machine (Beer Voltron!) in order to quell the uprising and put the entire thing back under its thumb.
So, can this same disruptive power work in the beer distribution world too?
The beer distribution industry certainly has its craft beer friendly businesses, and the National Beer Wholesalers Association places a big emphasis on independence within its ranks, but the specter of Big Beer’s influence looms large, whether AB InBev is outright trying to buy wholesalers, incentivizing them or just letting the still-large demand for its products dictate behavior.
All of this is to say, the owners of Night Shift Brewing have had enough and are ready to do as craft brewers do — take matters into their own hands. Soon, Night Shift Distributing will be offering craft brewers friendlier contracts, personal attention and fresher beer deliveries. The goal is to add as many as 25 craft brewers to its portfolio to ship to retailers across the state.
From the Boston Globe:
“Craft brewers have been able to come up with new ideas, new ways to exist as a business, fresh takes on beer styles, and so on,” said Night Shift president Rob Burns. “But these distributors have been around for decades. They love the status quo. There hasn’t been anyone trying to reinvent the distribution side of the beer business.”
Burns said Night Shift Distributing will distinguish itself by not engaging in practices he and other brewers claim are common at existing distributors: favoring some brands over others, blocking unhappy breweries from switching to another wholesaler, and paying off bars to put certain brews on tap. He also touted Night Shift’s large network of existing retail customers and its quality-testing lab.
Night Shift has spent about $1 million on the new distribution operation, Burns said.
“This is a direct commentary on the state of the industry right now,” Night Shift co-founder Michael Oxton said. “We’ve seen too many brewer friends suffer under poor distributors . . . [having] to shrink or shift their business model to stay alive.”
We encourage you to head to the Boston Globe to read the full thing.
Also, read another Great Moment in Craft Beer.