One of the hardest things for a small brewery to do is make the decision to turn over distribution of kegs and cans or bottles to a wholesale distributor. While the move can help the brewery grow quickly without having to worry about the complicated world of beer distribution, it also cuts into the brewery's profits and control.
In Colorado, however, breweries don't have to make that leap if they don't want to, as long as they don't sell their beer out of state. It's a challenge, but some have made self-distribution work.
On October 2, two small self-distributing breweries, Denver's Station 26 and Arvada's New Image, announced that they are teaming up under Station 26's network to sell their beer across the Front Range and Summit County. "This logistical move was advantageous for both companies as New Image broadens its reach with Station 26’s craft wholesale experience," the companies said in a statement.
"If you look at their portfolio and you look at ours, we don't have a single beer that competes with each other," says Station 26's Todd Luther, who has worked in distribution in Colorado for years and who joined Station 26 two years ago. "It opens opportunities with accounts that may not want to add another brewery."
“We have a ton of overlap with accounts, and our portfolios mesh incredibly well,” adds New Image founder Brandon Capps. “There aren’t a lot of people we would trust to represent us in the market, but Station 26 has shown themselves to be passionate, committed and professional. On top of that, they have invested in an infrastructure for sales and distribution that we believe has the potential to keep growing for years to come.”
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New Image has a lot of canned beers in the market, including hazy IPAs like East Coast Transplant and Single by Choice, along with a line of tart and sour beers including Dyad Sour Kombucha Ale. The brewery recently added a 10,000-square-foot, twenty-barrel production facility in order to keep up with demand. But New Image isn't as prevalent in bars and restaurants, which will be one of Luther's major focuses in the coming months.
Eventually, Station 26 might consider taking on other breweries as well, but Luther says it's not in the plans right now. "If we find a brand that works, we might consider it at some point," he adds.
Station 26 will expand its sales and delivery team to accommodate the distribution of New Image's portfolio, which will join Station 26’s Juicy Banger IPA, Tangerine Cream and 303 Lager, among others.