Stepping Out of Your Home Market

For Minneapolis’ Modist Brewing, slow and steady is the key to expansion. The brewery that opened in 2016 just recently left its home region and is now serving its beers in nearby Duluth, Minnesota — about 160 miles to the northeast of the brewery. It’s a big step in growth for the brewery said Marketing Director Dan Wellendorf.

“We’re a self distributed brewery, so the logistics came down to whether or not it was cost efficient to have one of our guys load up a truck and get up there,” he said. “It was.”

Duluth was an easy choice for Modist to pick as their first voyage away from their home market.

“We’re super familiar with the market as it’s only two hours from us and we’re up there yearly for a large craft beer event [and we] have a lot of relationships established already,” Wellendorf said. “We know that it’s a craft-thirsty marketplace and we’ve had countless requests to get our beer up there.

“We also recently partnered with a local Twin Cities pizza chain to brew a collaboration beer — and they have a location in Duluth that was going to be pouring our beer.”

The brewery has been running at capacity for some time now, Wellendorf said, but they recently invested in a centrifuge that cut down production time and eased volume constraints. That helped open up forecasting for production totals with Duluth included.

Instead of deliveries being weekly like they do locally, Modist is making trips bi-weekly.

“We’re currently able to get there and back within a day,” Wellendorf said, noting that

they have one sales rep that calls on accounts, but they are still based in the Twin Cities. They also have a couple of Duluth-based brand ambassadors that have been Modist faithfuls to help handle local events, but as they grow accounts in the area, Wellendorf expects deliveries to turn into a two-day endeavor.

Because of their familiarity with the market, Modist is confident the beer would move early on.

“Now we just have to make sure it keeps moving,” Wellendorf said. “We started on the safe side by only bringing our beer to a few stores, now we constantly measure that velocity and will expand there as need be.”

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