In preparation for the opening of Kuhnhenn Brewing Co.’s 20,000 bbl capacity production facility in Clinton Township, Mich., the Warren, Mich.-based craft brewer is building its distribution network with some of the most qualified wholesalers in the business.
Eastown Distributors of Highland Park, Mich., has been assigned the rights to the Kuhnhenn brand for its territory in Wayne County. This area includes the City of Detroit, the Grosse Pointes, and the Downriver communities. Ford Field, home of the Detroit Lions, has been pouring The Fluffer Session IPA from Kuhnhenn for two seasons now, and will get continued support from the Eastown team.
“Eastown is excited to add Kuhnhenn to our portfolio of Award Winning Michigan Beers,” said Paul Quasarano of Eastown Distributors. “We will invest heavily in local marketing and expanded distribution. Look for Kuhnhenn at all major venues in Detroit, including Comerica Park and The Joe Louis Arena.”
Ypsilanti-based O&W Distributing will distribute Kuhnhenn throughout seven counties, including the cities of Ann Arbor, Jackson, Monroe and Plymouth. The greater-Ann Arbor area, in particular, has been a trend-setting market for craft beer in the state of Michigan, while Ypsilanti is home to the Michigan Brewers Guild’s Summer Beer Festival.
“We are excited and honored to be distributing Kuhnhenn Brewing Company within our market area,” said Kit Morgeson, vice president of marketing for O&W Inc. “They have built a solid reputation creating dynamic, quality beers, it will be gratifying to help them grow the brewery and bring our customers delicious beers created right here in Southeast Michigan.”
In the state capitol, Lansing’s Dan Henry Distributing will hold the rights to the Kuhnhenn brand in a four county region also including the cities of East Lansing and Howell. The political center of the state has seen unprecedented growth of craft beer over the last few years in terms of increased market share, largely due to the presence of Dan Henry’s team beer consultants and the company’s investment in the community.
While completion of the expansion of brewing operations is still several months out, the brewery sees it important to establish a dedicated and competent network of wholesale partners early on, in order to guarantee a presence in the market upon launch.
“We’re in the unique position of having strong brand awareness, despite extremely limited distribution and production over the last 12 years,” stated Jon Piepenbrok, director of marketing and sales for Kuhnhenn Brewing Co. “Despite all the calls, emails and personal visits from distributors in other states, our main focus is Michigan. We have chosen wholesale partners that mirror our core values and can adapt to the changing market conditions in the field of craft beer. We will go out of state, but not until Michigan is at least close to satisfied.”
The new markets will not get a huge influx of product, initially. Current production constraints do not allow a proper launch at this point; accounts will be high-spotted until supply meets demand in early 2014.
Kuhnhenn Brewing Co. plans to open its Clinton Township-based Production Brewery and Public House in March 2014. Beer is expected to flow to market by late April statewide and beyond.