When a brewery is eyeing expansion into another state, all sorts of considerations come into play, from setting up a distributor network to figuring out which labels might sell best.
Then there is Utah. The traditionally teetotaling state next door has devised a set of laws and rules that often seem a few steps removed from Prohibition, scaring many national and regional craft brewers away.
Fort Collins-based New Belgium Brewing’s announcement Thursday that it would start distributing in the Beehive State is the direct result of Utah loosening up a bit.
The nation’s third largest independent craft brewery said it struck deals with eight distributors in the Anheuser-Busch InBev network in Utah and plans to start selling its beer there later this summer.
Brian Krueger with New Belgium sales said the brewery has wanted to be in Utah for a while, but hesitated because of quality-assurance concerns with the state’s system for shipping and storing beer.
Until a couple of years ago, all beer bound for Utah’s state-run liquor stores first had to stop at a un-refrigerated state warehouse for three to six weeks. That was a deal-killer for New Belgium, which does not wants its beer to be at room temperature for more than 30 days, Krueger said.
Utah dropped that rule in fall 2011 to allow for direct shipment to stores, and after that New Belgium began working with distributors to prepare for the transition (the brewery requires that its beer be kept in keg coolers between 35 and 50 degrees before being taken to stores for display).
Yet to be decided is exactly which New Belgium beers will be available in Utah, thanks to another wrinkle: The state must sign off on the portfolio, the reasoning being the government runs the stores and wants product moved. Expect the flagship Fat Tire, and two or three others in Utah, Krueger said.
New Belgium beer will not be sold in grocery stores or on draft because that beer must be 3.2 percent ABV.
“Every state has their little quirks,” Krueger said. “Utah has more little quirks than any state we’ve been in.”
Sam Jackson, brand manager with General Distributing in Salt Lake City, one of New Belgium’s distributors, said the hope is New Belgium’s Utah expansion might lead other craft brands to do the same.
New Belgium is available in 31 states and D.C., will begin distributing in Florida in a few days and recently announced plans to move into Delaware next month and British Columbia in September. The expansion marches on even though New Belgium is delaying plans to open an East Coast brewery in North Carolina.
Source Article from http://feeds.denverpost.com/~r/dp-blogs/~3/6-QfmFbEZCI/