Breweries Putting Local Customers First

Yesterday a friend emailed me an article from The Seattle Times that suggests, “after years of shipping beer farther and farther away, many small brewers are now shrinking distribution to sell beer more profitably at home.”

It’s true; we saw it with Dogfish Head and Flying Dog. When the independent breweries can’t produce enough beer to meet the demand of a larger market, they’re choosing to put local customers first.

Dogfish Head Fish Finder

Maryland-based Flying Dog had their flagship beers Doggy Style and Raging Bitch in 46 states but has recently eliminated 13 states from its distribution map and plans to cut back even further. The company has a goal of “selling 70 percent of Flying Dog’s output in Maryland, the District of Columbia and Northern Virginia within three years.” That region now accounts for about half of the 1 million cases Flying Dog sells annually.

Similarly, Dogfish Head (which is based in Delaware) pulled out of nearly half of its distribution area back in March. By eliminating distribution to states like Tennessee, Indiana, Wisconsin and Rhode Island (among others) and deciding to stop importing beer to the U.K. and Canada, they’re able to focus on the US market. In an official statement the brewery noted:

It is tough to hear from retailers across the country that they aren’t getting all the Dogfish they think they could sell, but without drastically changing our company and the way we operate, we cannot satisfy that demand.

So it is bittersweet for us to announce that we are pulling out of, or limiting some of our core beers from, a number of states. Yes this sucks. The glass-half-full view is that we (and a handful of other US craft breweries making similar moves) have to do this because the number of U.S. drinkers buying and enjoying craft beer – are growing so quickly! We sincerely apologize for any frustrations this may cause distributors, retailers, and beer lovers who are affected by our decision.

People may not like this idea (especially if they live in the casualty states) but think of the reaction craft beer lovers had when Goose Island struck a deal with Anheuser-Busch so they could expand and meet demand.

A brewery’s gotta do what a brewery’s gotta do.


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