Tips For Your Brewery’s Next Territory Expansion

La Cumbre Brewing company used the metrics and resources it had on hand to help determine where its next territory expansion would be.

The New Mexico-based brewery, already available in Colorado, announced an October 9 launch date in Arizona. The brewery chose its neighboring state not only because of proximity, but low barriers to entry, and a customer base that already exists.

“Looking at our website analytics and social media insights, we know we had a pretty strong group of people in Arizona who were passionate about our beer. It seemed like the next logical state,” said marketing director Cory Campbell.

The brewery expanded to a 30-barrel brewhouse in 2015 and president Jeff Erway said they have always stayed a bit ahead of demand with capacity.

“I never like having to make compromises on time due to lack of capacity,” he said, noting that the brewery is at just over 20,000 bbls of overall capacity with plans to add more 120-barrel fermentors in the spring. “That gives us another 5,000 bbls, or about 70,000 cases per year. We feel that this is plenty to get us going there.”

Erway said the brewery learned lessons in their reach into Colorado.

“Two steps forward and one step back,” he said. “Our understanding of the relationship between supplier and distributor is a whole lot better than it was when we entered Colorado. It has been good to us but there are a lot of things about our launch in that state that I wish we could do over.”

Campbell added that making a “splash” is important right at the start, hiring a full-time sales rep (Jason Metzka) based in Phoenix who is already on the ground helping bring hype.

“We think it will make a big difference,” he said. Erway said that he and Paul Cornett, La Cumbre’s Sales Manager, will be in the state quite a bit for the first few months and intermittently following.

“But we are both very confident that Jason will be an incredible voice for La Cumbre Brewing,” Erway added.

Although the brewery has gone through some really good sustainable growth in the past few years, Erway was not expecting La Cumbre to take off as it has.

“We have been lucky to have people on our team that are extremely passionate about the beer and its success,” he said. “When we started, my only focuses were on beer quality and making sure that our checks didn’t bounce. As the business has evolved, my focus has gone much more towards the sustainable growth of the business and job security for all of our team.

“There are a lot of breweries out there that are making enormous bets and leveraging themselves to the hilt… and I really do hope it works out for them in the long run. I feel that our team is much better served if we keep our debt in check, grow as organically as possible, make sure that our people have a high quality of life and job security. We’ll keep on making the best beer we know how and if there’s room for growth in our markets, we will take it where we can. We will not go chasing it just to increase volume.”

Also, keeping a tight leash on how much beer is sent is paramount.

“The last thing we want is old and out of date beer on the shelves,” Campbell said. “Finding a distributor that would work with us to uphold our standards of freshness was key, and we think we have found that in in Arizona.

“After all, our first impression in a new market is the taste of our beer, and you only get one chance to make a good first impression.”

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