Three Things to Consider When Partnering with a Distributor

When finding a distribution partner as a brewery, it’s important to know what you’re getting into so that you can ensure your brand is successful outside your home market. When Cape Beverage (Cape May Brewing Company’s distribution arm) partnered with Pizza Boy Brewing, we at Brewer thought they would be the perfect distribution company to ask for tips since their team has experience on both sides. Ryan Krill, CEO and co-founder of Cape May, offered some insights as a distributor about what Cape Beverage looks for in a partner, what he has learned from being on the brewery side, and the perks of going through a distributor versus self-distributing.


  1. “First and foremost, we [at Cape Beverage] look for partners who share our values, particularly when it comes to quality and variety. Pizza Boy’s beers are outstanding, and they’re well-differentiated enough to have over a hundred taps at any given time. Furthermore, we look for breweries with a dedicated laboratory: at Cape May Brewing Company, we know the importance of quality assurance and control, and we expect our partners at Cape Beverage to take the same amount of responsibility with their products.”
  2. “Having gotten into this business on the brewery side, we’ve gone through the process of finding a distributor once or twice ourselves, so we know what we look for when we’re looking to partner with someone to distribute our product in a new territory. As such, our contracts are written from the perspective of a brewer. They’re short and to the point, but, most importantly, give the brewer an exit clause if they ever want to sever ties. We hope that they don’t, but it’s the alternative that we’d like to see as brewers to a lifelong franchise agreement. If you’re looking for a distribution partner, the most important thing you can do is research the franchise laws in the state you’re looking to distribute. Know what you’re getting into before you make any moves. Then, ensure that you’re fully aligned with whatever wholesaler you eventually choose — that both parties know where you want to go and how you intend to get there.”
  3. “A good distributor has the experience and the existing connections to execute your plan and sell your product. However, with some of the bigger distributors, it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle — it’s important to find someone who has the resources to commit to your brand. We work with Standard Distributing in Delaware and Origlio Beverage in Pennsylvania. Both have proven to be amazing partners and have grown Cape May Brewing Company beyond our expectations.”


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