Several small Colorado breweries that only sell in-state have recently signed on with distribution companies in order to get their beer inside more mouths.
Dry Dock in Aurora, Trinity in Colorado Springs and Eddyline Brewing in Buena Vista are all working with Western Distribution, while Telluride Brewing recently signed on with Elite Brands of Colorado, one of the biggest craft-beer distributors in the state. Prost Brewing, which only packages in growlers, is also negotiating with Elite.
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Pateros Creek Brewing in Fort Collins, Grimm Brothers Brewing in Loveland and Parker's Hall Brewing, meanwhile, have done deals with Tivoli Distributing, a brand-new company that is owned by the same people who make and distribute Tivioli Beer.
"We chose Tivoli because they are a small company, too, and we feel like we can grow with them," says Bob Jones, business manager for Pateros Creek, which sells two of its beers, Old Town Ale and Cache la Porter, in sixteen-ounce cans. "They seem like they have a real dedication to craft beers, and they didn't demand too much beer at first because we are kind of in a ramping-up stage."
Breweries that distribute outside of Colorado are required by law to employ distributors as middlemen; only those that sell beer in-state can distribute themselves.
But for some, it's not worth it. "I didn't want to have another department to manage," says Trinity Brewing founder Jason Yester. "I'm busy enough being the general manager and running the brewhouse and everything else. I only got eight days off in 2012. For me to take on more responsibilities is not possible right now."
Yester picked Western because it had a lot of warehouse space, good insights into the business and established relationships with restaurants and liquor stores around the state.
Western left the beer distribution business several years ago after selling part of its company, but re-entered the market earlier this year with Dry Dock.
"We have an opportunity to be a star with them," says Yester, who plans to increase Trinity's production from 800 barrels in 2012 to about 1,100 barrels in 2013. In another two years or so, he hopes to begin selling beer in several other "beer-geek" states.
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