*A Note from BBC14 Grand Sponsor, Reyes Beverage Group*
Host of BBC14 Conference Opening Lunch on Friday, August 22
What do Three Floyds, Dogfish Head, Firestone Walker, Lagunitas, Solemn Oath, Sierra Nevada, Flying Dog, New Belgium, Allagash and Ballast Point all have in common? They are a handful of very well respected and fast growing breweries in the country AND all of which are distributed by one of the most progressive distributors in the country, Reyes Beverage Group.
Reyes delivers Corona, Guinness, Heineken and Miller. Sure, these are big brands. But their additional dedication to the craft community and small brewers sets them apart from other distributors. Their scale and operational excellence are matched by a true passion for supporting the grass roots craft world as evidenced not only by their early support of the Brewers Association but through their portfolio and partnership with the likes of New English, Mike Hess, Penrose, Belching Beaver, Green Flash, Vander Mill, Metropolitan, Surly, Lost Abbey, Oskar Blues, Left Hand, Great Divide, Anderson Valley, North Coast, Smuttynose, Victory and many others who trust Reyes to store, protect, market, sell and deliver their hand crafted brews.
Reyes delivers beer to 40,000 retailers across the country including bars, restaurants and supermarkets in Southern California (from Santa Barbara to San Diego), Chicago, and Washington DC, as well as Norfolk and most of Northern Virginia, Charleston and Orlando and the surrounding areas.
It’s safe to say, they know a thing or two about what people are drinking! They shared a few of the trends they’re seeing while helping us prepare for the Beer Bloggers Conference here in San Diego, home of Crest Beverage, a joint venture between the Sourapas family and Reyes.
Of no surprise to any of the BBC14 beer bloggers, the trends Crest Beverage sees in the marketplace are highlighted by:
- an overall shift to the high-end with greater demand for craft beer
- the growth of cider and Mexican imports
Crest Beverage uses these insights to help evaluate their beer offerings to ensure the retailer is meeting the needs of their beverage customers.
Joe Lotito, General Manager for Unique Craft Solutions, the Reyes distributorship based in LA, says:
“We’ve always been a leader on the operational side, which is important for managing skus and maintaining quality, but where we’re really focused now is hand selling. Craft beer is not a high volume business, our job for the craft beer industry is to make sure the beer is in the right account, where the brewer wants it, and that we service those accounts they way they need to be serviced.”
Reyes has added more positions and specialized craft folks in all their houses to serve the craft world. Their most recent addition is Steve Almaraz, who joined Reyes from Firestone Walker. He relays,
“Reyes has evolved; we can deliver to the biggest accounts and forecast better than any distributor, which is of value to everyone, AND we will get a one-off keg to a special account for a special evening. That’s a big deal for our craft partners.”
All the Reyes folks we spoke with agreed it’s getting more complex – saying consumers and retailers want something new, fresh and local. They said craft brewers deliver on that request over and over but that also leads to more skus. The proliferation of sku’s, especially with seasonal and collaboration brews, requires a sophisticated system and lots of cold storage, both of which Reyes has plenty of, to ensure both quality and customer service.
As Wes the director of business development at Reyes Windy City Distributing calls it,
“Yeah, it’s noisy out there with a lot of new breweries entering the market, but it’s our job to make sure we put the right beer in the right accounts in the right quantities. It’s not just about what’s “new” or “rare” all the time. That is a growing minority of the industry, but the more important role for distributors going forward is to support the craft beer community that exists while always trying to cultivate the new craft beer fan.”
Reyes supports the BA’s quality efforts, through ensuring they order the right amount of beer and store and deliver it in the right manner as well as educate retailers on quality whether its refrigeration, line cleaning or glassware. John Engel from Chicago Beverage System leads an in-depth level two Cicerone training which has led to unprecedented passing rates for the difficult test by the CBS team and better educated sales team.
Jessica Muskey Vice President of Marketing for Premium Distributors of Washington DC, said Ryan Curley from Premium conducted draft training for bars in Washington DC last week.
Jessica talked about the importance of forecasting demand and managing retailer and consumer expectations when a brand is in high demand as they just had with Flying Dog’s Dead Rise. “I have never seen a limited release have such a dramatic impact on our market. Everywhere you looked people were talking about Dead Rise. We worked closely with Flying Dog on allocations, to make sure we could get Dead Rise where Flying Dog wanted it. The key for the success was communication; Flying Dog was constantly updating us on production and we relayed that info real time to our sales team what kept the accounts informed.”
The success of a brewery and that of its brands relies on coalition of players, the brewer who hand crafts it, the distributor who helps sell, merchandise and deliver it, the retailer who also sells, presents and serves it and the beer lovers and media such as yourself who savor and share the story.
It’s evident that the Reyes team’s passion for beer, breweries, the bar industry, and the beer community, overall, is central to its operations. We look forward to being a part of the 2014 Beer Bloggers Conference in San Diego!