Connecting with All Tiers of Distribution a Driver for Growth

Along with quality craft beer, being able to convey its brewery’s message and culture across multiple tiers of the distribution system has helped Allagash Brewing get to where it is today. That includes working alongside distribution partners to help get its product out to the public and advertised correctly.

“We have always used a distribution network,” said Allagash sales director Naomi Neville in a video posted by the National Beer Wholesalers Association. “We wouldn’t be where we are without it. We wouldn’t be selling beer in California, or Georgia or DC without a fantastic distribution network.”

The Portland, Maine brewery was honored recently by the NBWA as the Brewer Partner of the Year. KettleHouse Brewing of Missoula, Montana, was recognized with the Brewer Partner Sales Execution Award, and Port City Brewing in Alexandria, Virginia, was presented the Brewer Partner Marketing Innovation Award.

The awards recognize the brewers who do the best job in the marketplace producing great beer; building strong partnerships; providing valuable education; and offering support to their distributor customers in order to bring their beers to market.

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“Allagash, KettleHouse and Port City are three of the more than 4,000 breweries that are generating such excitement for beer around this country and providing the American consumer with unprecedented choice and quality,” said NBWA president and CEO Craig Purser. “The U.S. is enjoying a Golden Age for beer thanks to a robust and competitive system of independent distribution, which provides access to market and a competitive playing field for brewers of all sizes and generates excitement for consumers.”

Allagash was honored for its work, such as putting together materials to help the wholesalers and its own sales reps talk to customers on an entire national level at both on-premise and off-premise.

For new and existing products, it provides its distributors with posters, videos, artwork and sales sheets about the brand. Allagash also has created a custom profit calculator app that allows distributors to calculate how much money each product can make at retail compared to competing brands. This information can then be shared with retail buyers.

“Without the commitment from our wholesalers and retailers, we can’t get to the consumers we really want to get to,” noted Matt Welch, the East Coast sales manager for Allagash.

“To many around the country, it is no mystery that Allagash makes great beer and is on the forefront of innovation,” said Joey Waraskevich of Pine State Beverage in a release. “What may not be so obvious to some is the support and quality of people they provide to their wholesaler partners.”

Waraskevich pointed out what distributors look for: innovative product, consistent product and quality product with great support in the market with people first. “Allagash hits the mark with all of this things,” he said.

Allagash partners with their distributors to host “Saison Day” each March where they focus on educating consumers about the Saison style of beer. Allagash also recognizes each distributor partner who sells more than 100,000 case equivalents per year by having management fly into the market and hand deliver a custom-made sign recognizing the accomplishment.

“The great relationship that we have with wholesalers have enabled us to drive our volumes up and grow at a rate that is petty amazing to me,” said Allagash marketing director Jeff Pillet-Shore.

“[Allagash founder] Rob Tod has created a culture of not only hard working employees but, as important, quality people of great character and flawless follow through,” Waraskevich said. “If visiting the brewery as a wholesaler, it is common for a brewer or member of the operations team to personally thank you for selling their beer. Furthermore, it will take you five minutes of being in the brewery to discover that everyone is genuinely proud of where they work.”

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