Being a craft beer fan you are very likely to start meeting people that work in the industry. Some work for breweries while others work at bars, stores and the local distributors. And the distributors are a key in how craft beer gets to the masses. Because of three tier laws that prevent breweries to sell directly to retail they must go through a network of distributors in the areas they wish to be carried in. But how exactly do the breweries choose which states and areas they want to be in?
Some areas just make sense to a brewery. If you are a California brewery you are likely going to distribute int he home state as well as probably neighboring states like Oregon, Arizona, Nevada, etc. But when you start branching out to other regions how do you choose?
Let’s take a California for the sake of me already mentioning one, Lost Abbey. The Southern California brewery is distributed in their home state of California along with other regional states like Arizona, Washington and Colorado. But once they start heading east it’s a little more spread out. They distribute in Georgia as well as the Chicago, Philly and Boston metro areas, not the entire states of those cities.
This looks like a very well planned idea to be hitting certain metro points in different regions. Chicago services the mid west, Philly the Northeast and Mid Atlantic, Boston in New England and Georgia in the South. This direction can make a lot of sense for a brewery that is not that big but has huge demand for their products all over. They have tried to make it easy for some people to travel and get their beer more easily than heading out to California.
But there are expansion plans that I don’t quite understand. They don’t seem logical so I would need some explanation as to why. Case in point is the recent decision by Ballast Point to start distributing in the state of Texas. While on the cover that seems awesome, especially for the fine folks of Texas. They get to enjoy some excellent beers like Sculpin, Sea Monster and Victory at Sea. But underneath it sort of seems Ballast Point might be missing something.
See Ballast Point is distributed in Central Florida currently but not in South Florida where I reside. The apparent reason they are not down here is that they can not make enough beer to cover the territory. Understandable, hitting capacity seems to be the only good problem in brewing. But the news of hitting the entire state of Texas surprised me a bit.
I know Ballast Point is in the midst of expansions currently to help produce more beer, that’s awesome news. But why not first finish off distribution in a state you are already in? You already have all the legal work done in the state for your beers. And the marketing of your products are a home run in the fishing heavy South Florida. To me it seems like just finding the distributor for the products and you are done. I mean I could be completely off and would welcome someone from Ballast Point telling me otherwise. But it looks like a no brainer.
Sure you can tell me to go back to my point about Lost Abbey hitting key markets in certain regions and I can drive an hour to get some of their stuff. Sure that could completely be plausible but when you are under the impression that their beer isn’t in your region because of capacity that is something else. I would imagine supplying the entire state of Texas is much more beer than South Florida.
And look I’m not trying to rag on Ballast Point in the slightest. I’m sure there is a reason for this and I’m sure it isn’t an easy decision for anyone that has to make these calls. Texas, you are truly in for a treat with these guys. Great beers all across the board. I just hope that Ballast Point soon makes the decision to cover all of the state of Florida soon so I can more regularly enjoy a Big Eye IPA on a hot summer fall day.