Monday, April 14, 2008

Nashville becoming a craft beer town?

Well, I heard some interesting news this morning. The fight for beer taps around town is going to get even more competitive, but at least we'll be competing with good beer, instead of the macro-crap. Magic Hat Brewery, out of Vermont, has signed a distribution deal with Ajax-Turner, the area Anheuser-Busch distributor. It's really interesting to see the big A-B house signing up craft breweries - they signed up Yeungling and Atlanta Brewing last year, and now Magic Hat. A-B has relaxed some of their restrictions on their distributors, letting them carry beers with higher margins than Bud and Bud Light. We'll see how well they can sell craft beer.

I also heard that New Belgium Brewing out of Colorado, the brewer that makes "Fat Tire", will be in town again to interview with Ajax-Turner and DET Distributing. So far, New Belgium has not distributed across the Mississippi river - you can get it in West Memphis, but not Memphis. I'll be surprised if they really do decide to come into Tennessee before other states like Georgia and North Carolina, that have more established craft beer markets like Atlanta or Charlotte. Our 17% wholesale tax really hurts the profits of the breweries that sell here, especially compared with other Southern states.

Anyway, it's a sure sign that Nashville is becoming viewed as a good town to sell craft beer. When we started our brewery five years ago, it seemed like Sierra Nevada and Flying Dog were the only craft brands available. Most restaurants would only have four taps. Now most new restaurants have a much larger selection of draft and are more and more devoting the space to craft and imports. As a brewer, I'm not looking forward to more and more of the "big craft brewers" like New Belgium and Magic Hat coming into the market. But as a beer lover too, I'm glad for the diversity we're starting to see.

6 comments:

Troy said...

Hey Linus. I emailed New Belgium about Tennessee distribution, and they said the plan to be here in July sometime, starting with 22oz. bottles for a while before going into 6-packs and such. Apparently, they are already in Illinois, so that river is no longer the distribution boundary they held onto for so long.

I agree that only good can come from better distribution and more selection, it just raises the bar all around. I guess for you it will be a matter of emphasizing your local presence. There is still nothing better than fresh beer.

Alan Roberta said...

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Thomas Gaines said...

You can really use that momentum, of excitement in craft beer, to attract this market to local flavors and trends. Like Troy said, there is nothing better than fresh local products (beer!)
Cheers!

Eddie Christy said...

Glad you guys are blogging! I had no idea. Not only that, I'm glad you guys are here in Nashville. I'm always proud to let friends from out of town taste a lil Yazoo! Dos Perros is always stocked in my fridge!

Anonymous said...

I also emailed NBB about distributing to TN, and they confirmed a July rollout date.

I loves me some Fat Tire, but as Troy says about, nothing beats fresh beer. It's like gettin' milk from the teat, as my friends hate to hear me say.

Hey, don't sweat the big dudes coming in - you just keep doing what you do. NBB was small and local once, too.

RichardK said...

I'd agree with the fresh beer comment, which is why I'm enjoying my fresh Yazoo Hefeweizen keg from the brewery today!

It is true that New Belgium is actually here today, but their Sales distributor is waiting until next week to begin distribution "fairly" to his stores... evidently there will be a couple of pub crawls next week ( don't know the details yet). One of my best friends is the Dir of IT at New Belgium in Ft. Collins, so I have inside information.

He'll be here in 2 months to kick off a promo when they begin distributing kegs... me loves me some Fat Tire too!