What are Your Distro Goals?

Renegade ​Brewing ​owner Brian O’Connell ​recently told Brewer if any owner has the option, every brewery should start by self-distributing.

“Do it until you have enough distribution that it makes financial sense to hand over the margin to a distributor,” he said. ​O’Connell pointed out that self-distributing also teaches you first hand about the supply chain and interacting with retailers.

​Pike Brewing‘s Art Dixon added there ​can be some breweries with the goal of national distribution, but a much smaller portion of those breweries has been able to successfully achieve that goal.

​Instead of making a play for expanding our market in that way, Pike has always wanted to recommit to the local community and focus on beer quality and freshness.

​”​That doesn’t mean, however, we’re not open to atypical growth avenues,​” Dixon said.​

​For the past ​few years, Pike has been distributing beer to Japan to meet the growing demand for American craft beer.

​”​We’re pleased to be working with business partners that care about quality and consistency just as much as we do​,” he said. ​”​Instead of less trustworthy disposable kegs, for example, we’re using stainless steel cooperage to send beer back and forth.​”​

​Before packaging, 3 Daughters Director of Quality, Desiree Chubb, said to establish a quality program.

​”​Allow all employees to give input and maintain a high level of motivation and focus among members of the team​,” she said​. “From the bartenders reviewing consumer feedback and implementing that information, to the canners on the line making sure that the products are good for distribution, to the brewers making the consistent styles over time, everyone must be really involved.​”​

Yet, O’Connell added that breweries should try self-distribution if they can first.

“It’s an invaluable experience for the future of your business that you shouldn’t pass up​,” O’Connell said.​​ ​“If you feel as though you have maximized the revenue of your taproom. If you think you could possibly sell even one more drop of beer out that space, then do it, don’t distribute it.

​”​The margins from your taproom are unparalleled and there is no gain for the business to give up that margin to distribute.”

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