In February, Mike, Jacob, and Kat sat down with Andrew Parker from Accubrew to discuss the company and what it's like out in the market as a "micro-distributor"for"micro-breweries" in the Tampa Bay Area. If you are looking to getting into the distribution game, then this will have a wealth of information that you should know ahead of time.
Mike and Jacob started their journey as homebrewers with the dream of opening a brewery. However, due to COVID, they had to change gears and explore other avenues. They decided to venture into craft beer distribution and established Altered Craft Distribution. The initial equipment they had purchased for their brewery proved to be useful in kickstarting their distribution business. They started small but quickly grew, representing 22 brands (at the time of recording) and covering a large territory in the Bay Area.
One of the key differentiators for Altered Craft Distribution is their commitment to advocacy and partnership. Unlike larger macro distributors, Altered Craft actively engages in sales for the breweries they represent. They see themselves as partners with the breweries, working together to build their brands and educate both the breweries and the establishments they sell to. Most of the brands they work with are small, independent breweries that have never been in distribution before. Altered Craft takes on the responsibility of fostering and educating these breweries, as well as the bars and restaurants they sell to.
Selling craft beer in a competitive market comes with its fair share of challenges. Altered Craft Distribution faces obstacles such as the significant investment required for distribution, the logistics involved in transporting kegs, and the need to convince bar owners to carry their brands. The team shared insights into the financial aspects, including the cost of tap handles and kegs, which can be a substantial investment for breweries. They also highlighted the importance of understanding the laws and regulations surrounding beer distribution in Florida, including lifetime contracts and franchise laws.
To address some of the concerns and challenges faced by breweries, Altered Craft Distribution implemented a unique approach. Unlike the industry norm of long-term contracts, they offer one-year contracts with their brewery partners. This flexibility allows breweries to reevaluate their partnership annually and make decisions based on their evolving needs. Altered Craft believes in supporting the growth of breweries on their terms and does not hold them hostage to lengthy contracts.
While Altered Craft advocates for self-distribution, they acknowledge that it may not be feasible for every brewery. Self-distribution can work well for smaller breweries with strong local connections, but as the market becomes saturated, it may lead to chaos if every brewery opts for self-distribution. The team recognizes the challenges this could create for establishments already dealing with multiple distributors. They emphasize the importance of finding the right balance between self-distribution and working with trusted partners like Altered Craft Distribution.
Altered Craft Distribution's journey from homebrewers to craft beer distributors showcases the entrepreneurial spirit and adaptability necessary in the industry. Their emphasis on advocacy, partnership, and flexibility has allowed them to carve out a niche for themselves in the competitive craft beer market. By supporting and educating their brewery partners and providing a range of services, Altered Craft Distribution plays a crucial role in the growth and success of local craft beer brands.