Monday, August 27, 2007

The Beer Distributor is the Vehicle of Choice for New Beverages

After a long summer, I like to start looking for new, exciting brands to add to my portfolio. Usually, I take two to three months to decide which new beverage brand I’m going to add. The decision process starts in early fall and lasts to the end of the year. I make my mind up in December and make contact with the different companies. At the first of the year, we start setting goals and objectives, training our sales team, and adding infrastructure around these brands. Once Spring gets here, we can concentrate on sales leading into the Summer months. Then we start all over again. This process has been very successful for our company in the past with brands like Snapple, Sobe, Red Bull, Fuze, and Vitaminwater. In fact, our non-alcohol division was on track to pass our beer division in gross profits by mid-2008. Now the bomb has dropped, everyday Red Bull wants me to spend, spend, spend. Fuze and Vitaminwater will be going to Coke by the middle of next year. Snapple is giving away the ship. What in the world am I going to do? The first thing is not worry too much. I understand that this is the beverage business and these things happen everyday. Brands come and go. One thing I’ve learned is that you have to remember where you came from. I think many companies forget that and get to big to fast. The brands I mentioned above were built by hard working distributors case by case, not by corporate sales executives. When I lose a brand I always know there will be another company that is hungry. There are literally hundreds of beverage companies that will offer my beer distributorship a nice margin, a good beverage brand, and an incentive to sell their brand. After all, my company is just a vehicle to get their brand on the shelf. Some brands I am looking to add are as follows:

·Irn-Bru - A mixed fruit flavored soda made with 32 flavors. Can be used as a mixer.
·Metromint - Purified water flavored with natural mint.
·Hint - Pure water, nature's original refreshment, accented with a hint of natural flavor.
·Essn - One hundred percent natural sparkling juice beverage.
·Luvli Juice - All natural, low sodium juices.
·Function - Make your drink work for you.
·Bawls - Guarana-based soft drink has been out for a while, but the new cherry flavor is terrific.

I will keep you informed of my decisions on these beverages and how they are doing in my market.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

I'm Taking My Suitcase on Vacation

I have been in the beer business for a long time. As you may or may not know, a beer distributor will not take a vacation. He is forced to take a vacation by the wife and kids. Sometimes this happens amicably. Sometimes it is done at gunpoint. The whole time we are gone, we think about the trucks going out, or someone not showing up for work, or the route deposits getting to the bank, or the warehouse catching on fire. When I was growing up, the only vacations we took were to beer conventions or meetings. That was the only vacation I ever knew, and they were wonderful. Nowadays my kids want to go to the beach. I can't stand the beach. I want to go on a beer distributor vacation that is chock full of beer drinking experiences and nostalgia. I love history, travel by car, beer, sports, and taverns (read “any hole in the wall tavern”). Please be aware that I am not a beer connoisseur, I really don't care about beer styles or flavors or trying to talk about beer as one talks about wine. I love the imagery of brands, the historical significance of the beers, breweries, and beer distributors, and the emotions that I have during beer drinking occasions. My memories of different beers started when the truckloads arrived at the warehouse and with the beer came the differing strategies of the sales call for each brand. Thoughts of the white-collar brewery representative with his new ideas, in and out attitude, and worthless business plans don’t enter my mind. I only think about what I would be doing and where I would be if I could enjoy the brand in any setting.

So, I am going to drink twenty four beers on my beer distributor vacation, my so-called “Suitcase Vacation Special”, one beer for each lovely memory I have of special brands and the locations that my mind correlates with these brands. If an itinerary for a beer distributor vacation existed, I think it would look somewhat like this:

Number 1. I pop the first one at the oldest brewery in the United States, the rathskellar at the Yuengling Brewery in Pottsville, Pennsylvania. Of course I would have a Traditional Lager in a longneck bottle.

Number 2. Then I’ll head over to Clairton, Pennsylvania and find John Welch’s bar from “The Deer Hunter”. Did you know that was me shooting pool, singing Frankie Valli’s “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You”, and drinking Rolling Rock twelve ounce cans. I was there.

Number 3. Why not give me a Narragansett longneck on the dunes at Horseneck Beach, Massachusetts, just seconds across the Rhode Island state line.

Number 4. When I was young I thought of Mr. Boh as other kids think of Mickey Mouse. I never understood why he only had one eye, my grandfather told me it was from a barfight! Give me a twelve ounce can of National Bohemian at the O’s game in Baltimore, Maryland.

Number 5. I guess I’ll never know what it feels like to have a Rupperts Beer at Yankee Stadium in New York. Gives me an empty feeling inside.

Number 6. I want a Haffereffer Private Stock at Fenway Park. I sold those stubby sixteen ounce bottles for years. I sure did love that brand.

Number 7. Easing over to Rochester, New York I find myself enjoying a Genny Cream at the old Genesee Brewing facility while relaxing by the High Falls Gorge of the Genesee River.

Number 8. Why not have a fire brewed Stroh’s and play fetch with Alex in Detroit, Michigan.

Number 9. 10. and 11. Oh, beautiful Milwaukee, Wisconsin! I’ll have a Pabst, Schlitz, and a Blatz longneck at any corner pub in town. The smaller, darker, and smokier the place, the better.

Number 12. Give me a High Life Pony on any lake in America with a cane fishing pole and some crickets. Talk about Miller Time.

Number 13. No one remembers Harry Caray hawking Old Style at Cubs games. How about Harry singing “Take me out to the Ballgame” in the seventh and me enjoying an ice cold Old Style draft at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois.

Number 14. Why don’t we take a quick trip out to Jackson Hole, Wyoming and I can have stubby Olympia while bar hopping with Clint and Clyde.

Number 15. Did you know that Busch Beer at Busch Stadium is terrific? Try drinking a Bartles and Jaymes Wine Cooler there. I did.

Number 16. I would love to sip on an ice cold Goldcrest 51 longneck while “jukeing” down Beale Street in Memphis, Tennessee.

Number 17. The fountain of youth is in New Orleans, Louisiana. Just the thought of a Dixie Beer Longneck and the French Quarter stirs up feelings I left behind when I was eighteen years old.

Number 18. Drink a Pearl Longneck at the Corral again. I was fourteen the first time I did.

Number 19. Out from San Antonio not quite to Luckenbach, on a ranch full of Mesquite trees and rabbits the size of, well, Texas, there are a bunch of guys that sit around and drink Lone Star twelve ounce cans all day long. I would like to partake with them one more time. Also, do you know who was driving the old Lone Star delivery truck in “Midnight Cowboy”? It was me!

Number 20. I could drink an eight ounce can of Country Club Malt Liquor and crush it just like the guy from the commercials. Bring them back Pabst. I know I could sell them.

Number 21. The best creative imagery in the beer business, Colorado and Coors Banquet Beer. Sitting by a Rocky Mountain stream in Golden and drinking a gooseneck Coors.

Number 22. My first finished beer was a Pabst at five years old at a beer convention. My second was a Golden Champale twelve ounce green classic bottle with an Apple Jolly Rancher at nine. I will get around to trying that again, just to see if it tastes as good as I remember.

Number 23. When the movie “Boyz n the Hood” came out in 1991 Olde English 800 was a dying brand in our house. Overnight we were selling it by the truckload. A quick trip to Compton, California and an Eight Ball forty to pay my respects to Ice Cube and Big Worm.

Number 24. St. Louis, Missouri gave the world Falstaff Beer and I know for a fact Falstaff Beer is responsible for bringing me into it. Just one more chance to drink a Falstaff longneck on the grounds of old Plant #1.

There you have it, we have gone through the best case of beer our country could ever produce. Don't worry my “Beer Distributor Vacation Suitcase Special” will be coming to a travel agent near you. I will set up the itinerary and no hangovers will be allowed.

For some very entertaining reading please visit John Smallshaw’s History of Falstaff Brewing Corporation, A History of Malt Liquor by Kihm Winship, and’s Illustrated History of Olympia Brewing Company.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Beer Distributor Valuations

There are always conflicting accounts about valuations of our beer and beverage businesses. The $5 per case "rule of thumb" is just not the norm any longer. But before we go jumping to any sky high conclusions, I find reading Valuing Beer Distributors written by Lamont Seckman for Modern Brewery Age in 2004 to be the most helpful.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Hey Mr. Beer Distributor, do you know where I can find Champale Malt Liquor? Or Schlitz? Or Falstaff?

Champale Malt Liquor

Beer distributors are a very observant bunch, especially in our home markets. We know if a beer brand is going to sell, we know if it's profitable, we know all details about fire-selling overage beer, we know which beer brands take up space on supermarket shelves, and we know when beer brands are "dead". I am asked this question a hundred times a week...."Where can I find ________ beer? You can fill in the blank with Champale, Old Style, Pabst, Schlitz, Meister Brau, Red White and Blue, Pearl, Lone Star, Genuine Draft Light, Hamms, Country Club, Olympia, Ranier, Dixie Beer, Jax, Schmidts, Falstaff, Iron City, Weidemans, Genesee, Grain Belt, Malt Duck, Schaefer, National Bohemian, Black Label, Milwaukee 1851, and Blatz. The list goes on and on and on. Today I am writing, not only, to help my readers, but also to give me clarity on this subject. Following is a list of a few brewers, their old regional beer brands, and how you can find the beers that dotted America's beer landscape of yesteryear. If you have questions about other brands, don't hesitate to leave a comment and I'll get back to you soon.

1.Pabst Brewing Company

For Beer and Distributor Information:
Phone Number...1-800-935-BEER
Email Pabst
Email Pabst Quality Assurance

List of Brands brewed by Pabst:
Also Pabst Brewing Company brews Champale, Country Club, Blatz, Schaefer, Schmidts, Falstaff (discontinued), Jax (discontinued), Old Milwaukee, Piels, and Pearl and you can find these brands and others at

2.Miller Brewing Company

For Beer and Distributor Information:
Phone Number...1-800-MILLER-6
Online Distributor Lookup

List of Brands brewed by Miller:
Miller Brewing Company also brews Olde English 800, Meister Brau, Henry Weinhard's, and Magnum Malt Liquor.


For Beer and Distributor Information:
Phone Number...1-800-DIAL BUD
Contact Anheuser-Busch
A/B Wholesaler Locator

List of Brands brewed by Anheuser-Busch:
Anheuser-Busch also brews Hurricane Malt Liquor, King Cobra Malt Liquor, and Tequiza.

Hope that qwenches your thirst a little, you can Email Me for further inquiries of other beer brands. I will add to this list often.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Around the USA with Beer Distributors....

I've found some interesting articles from around the USA written about the most popular people in town, local employees of beer distributors....

Salesman from a Minnesota Budweiser Distributor

Alabama Miller Distributor

Montana Budweiser Distributor

I hope you enjoy these interesting articles about beer distributors around the USA. I will bring you more later.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Budweiser Almost Certain to go with Kasey Kahne...

Sources close to Anheuser Busch and Evernham Motorsports are saying the deal is almost done. Kahne would be a great fit with Bud, he's no Earnhardt, Jr., but he would be a great choice for the beer maker. Kahne is young, he is a proven driver, and he appeals to female fans. Heck, he is even being linked romantically to Paris Hilton. Considering how bad it hurts losing Junior, I still believe A/B has made the best of a tough situation and will see no backlash from the fans.

I wonder how many fans and distributors Miller Brewing has turned off by sponsoring Kurt Busch. Why didn't Miller Brewing just find a guy with the last name of Budweiser and hire him?

Friday, August 03, 2007

Adios Norman Adami, Thanks for the Cigarette...

Let's face it. Norman Adami was good for Miller Brewing Company. Accessable and full of energy his tenure marked a complete turnaround for the brewery. When he got there in 2003, Miller was a joke. Miller was a revolving door of white collar MBA's, purveyors of wholesale changes in a world that is dominated by blue collar beliefs. Many men before him tried to turn the company's fortunes around and all of them failed. Now they didn't fail as miserably as Jack McDonough did, but none really garnished much success. I remember having to abruptly go to Milwaukee in the late 90's to sign a new distributor agreement (under duress, of course) and overhearing some older distributors talk about his new Miller Red and where he could put it. That was too funny. I also remember hearing accusations about McDonough receiving two from Milwaukee and another from St. Louis. Oh, the good ole' days.

Anyway, thanks Norman. You have been the only decent CEO at Miller since Lenny Goldstein was running the show. The best I can say is that you did what you said you were going to do and your distributor network followed your lead.

Now for the next guys in line for the CEO at Miller or anyone that is in management at Miller and conducts business with Distributors, here is the secret for success....the business is built by RELATIONSHIPS.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Tony Stewart and Schlitz Beer

Did that come out of left field or what? It has taken me a few weeks since the Chicagoland race to come down to earth since that bombshell was dropped. I'm with you Tony, give me a little gusto every once in awhile. Just not everyday. Can you believe that in the seventies Schlitz had a marketshare of nearly 25%. Upwards of 70% in their strongest markets. I was so bored running my route that I would actually help the Schlitz driver roll in his cases when we were at the same stops, just to have someone to hang out with. Boy those days have changed. Schlitz is in our distributorship, but rarely makes it in any planograms to get set in the stores. The only volume is all specially requested by certain customers now. Schlitz is now "virtual owned" by Pabst Brewing Company and brewed by Miller Brewing Company.

Hey Tony, maybe one day they will brew Schlitz back in Milwaukee in beautiful long neck bottles. They might listen to you if you ask them, they sure as heck won't listen to me.