Unlinking the Mystery of the Beer Supply Chain

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Tiffany at 99 Bottles (blog sponsor) recently published a very interesting post on her blog: Reflecting on the beer blogger – beer retailer connection. In her post, Tiffany asks me (and other beer bloggers) to help her teach the beer drinking public a few things in hopes that people will better understand some of the challenges faced by bottleshop owners. I am happy to do so because I think Tiffany and her bottleshop are both pretty awesome. Also, I think it’s good for the public to know the reality of what’s going on when it comes to beer.

Let’s talk about the beer supply chain. In particular, one very specific aspect of the law that many folks do not understand. People repeatedly ask Tiffany questions like, “Why don’t you stock Victoria Bitter?” and “Can you order me a case of Ballast Point Brewing’s Sculpin IPA?” People stand stupefied when she tells them that she cannot stock Victoria Bitter (an Australian beer) and she cannot order a case of Ballast Point IPA (a San Diego beer). It’s not a matter of choice for Tiffany. She cannot sell either of those beers. Nobody can sell those beers in Washington.

Think of it this way. There is a list of import breweries/beers that can be legally distributed and sold in Washington. When I say, “import breweries/beers,” I am talking about any beer not produced in Washington. If it is not on that list, you cannot legally buy or sell it in Washington. No how, no way. Whether a bottleshop or bar buys it through a distributor or direct from the brewery, it must be on that list. There is no way to place a special order direct with a brewery that is not on the list. That is against the law.

If an out-of-state brewery wants to sell beer in Washington, or if a distributor wants to sell that brewery’s beer in Washington, they are welcome to get on the list. Nobody should be surprised that it costs money to get on the list.

Actually, in the case of out-of-state breweries, it is called a “Beer Out of State Certificate of Approval.” It costs $200 (presumably) per year. You can look at the list of who is licensed on the state’s website. Click here.

Sure, there is more to the law than that, but you and I do not need to understand the legal gobbledygook. If Tiffany cannot get it for you at 99 Bottles, then Morgan cannot get it for you at The Beer Junction (blog sponsor). If a beer is not on the list, you cannot get it. No how, no way.

I think I got that right.

The List of Breweries holding an Out of State Certificate of Approval:

10 BARREL BREWING COMPANY
ABITA BREWING COMPANY LLC
ALAMEDA BREWING
ALASKAN BREWING CO.
ALLAGASH BREWING COMPANY
AMERICAL BEVERAGE GROUP
ANCHOR BREWING COMPANY
ANDERSON VALLEY BREWING COMPANY
ANHEUSER BUSCH
AVERY BREWING COMPANY
BACARDI U.S.A.
BAYERN BREWING
BAYFRONT BREWERY
BAYHAWK ALES
BEAR REPUBLIC BREWING COMPANY
BEER VALLEY BREWING COMPANY, LLC
BIG SKY BREWING COMPANY
BITTER ROOT BREWING
BLACK DIAMOND BREWING COMPANY
BONEYARD BEER
BOULDER BEER CO
BOULEVARD BREWING COMPANY
BRIDGEPORT BREWING COMPANY
BURNSIDE BREWING CO.
CALDERA BREWING COMPANY
CAMO BREWING CO., INC.
CAPTURED BY PORCHES BREWING COMPANY
CASCADE BREWING COMPANY LLC
CASCADE LAKES BREWING CO
CHICAGO AMERICA HOLDING
COLD SPRING BREWING CO.
DESCHUTES BREWERY
DIAGEO – GUINNESS USA
DOGFISH HEAD CRAFT BREWERY
DOUBLE MOUNTAIN BREWERY & TAPROOM
DRAGONS GATE BREWERY
DUVEL MOORTGAT USA
E & J GALLO WINERY
EEL RIVER BREWING CO
ELYSIAN BREWING COMPANY
FEARLESS BREWING COMPANY
FIRE MOUNTAIN BREWERY
FIRESTONE WALKER BREWING CO.
FIVE STAR BREWING CO INC
FORT GEORGE BREWERY
FULL SAIL BREWING COMPANY
GIGANTIC BREWING COMPANY
GLACIER BREWHOUSE
GOODLIFE BREWING COMPANY
GOOSE ISLAND BEER COMPANY
GORDON BIERSCH BREWERY RESTAURANT
GORDON BIERSCH BREWING COMPANY
GRAND TETON BREWING COMPANY
GREAT DIVIDE BREWING CO INC
GREEN FLASH BREWING CO
HAIR OF THE DOG BREWING COMPANY
HARVEST MOON BREWING
HARVESTER BREWING
HIGH FALLS OPERTING CO.
HOOK & LADDER BREWING COMPANY
HOPWORKS URBAN BREWERY
IRON CITY BREWING COMPANY
JACK DANIELS BEVERAGE COMPANY
JACOB LEINENKUGEL BREWING
JOSEPH JAMES BREWING CO.
KONA BREWERY
KOOTENAI RIVER BREWING COMPANY
LAKEFRONT BREWERY INC
LAUGHING DOG BREWING
LAURELWOOD BREWING CO.
LEFT COAST BREWING CO
LEFT HAND BREWING COMPANY
LOMPOC BREWING
LOST COAST BREWERY & CAFE
MAD RIVER BREWING COMPANY
MARK ANTHONY BRANDS
MAUI BREWING CO.
MCMENAMINS EDGEFIELD BREWERY
MELANIE BREWERY COMPANY, INC.
MENDOCINO BREWING COMPANY
MIDNIGHT SUN BREWING COMPANY
MILLENNIUM PRODUCTS
MILLERCOORS
MINHAS CRAFT BREWERY
MJ BARLEYHOPPERS BREWERY/SPORTS PUB
MOYLANS BREWING CO.
MT SHASTA BREWING COMPANY
NEW BELGIUM
NINKASI BREWING COMPANY
NORTH COAST BREWING CO.
OAKSHIRE BREWING
OCCIDENTAL BREWING CO
OSKAR BLUES BREWERY
PABST BREWING
PALE HORSE BREWING COMPANY
PELICAN PUB & BREWERY
PERNOD RICARD USA
PHAT MATTS BREWING CO.
PHUSION PROJECTS
PIGS EYE BREWING COMPANY
PORT BREWING
PUGSLEY BREWING
PYRAMID BREWERIES INC.
ROGUE BREWERY & PUBLIC HOUSE
RUSSIAN RIVER BREWING COMPANY
SAINT ARNOLD BREWING COMPANY
SEVEN BRIDES BREWING
SHIPYARD BREWING COMPANY
SHMALTZ ENTERPRISES
SIERRA NEVADA BREWING COMPANY
SILVER MOON BREWING
SOUTHERN OREGON BREWING COMPANY
SOUTHERN TIER BREWING COMPANY
SPOETZL BREWERY
STONE BREWING CO
TERMINAL GRAVITY BREWING
THE BOSTON BEER COMPANY
THE BRUERY
THE COMMONS BREWERY
THE GAMBRINUS COMPANY
THE LAGUNITAS BREWING COMPANY
TRUMER BRAUEREI
UINTA BREWING COMPANY
UNITED BRANDS COMPANY INC
UNITED STATES BEVERAGE
UPRIGHT BREWING COMPANY
VICTORY BREWING COMPANY
WALKABOUT BREWING COMPANY
WALLACE BREWING
WIDMER BROTHERS BREWING CO.
WINERY EXCHANGE

 

 

10 Responses to Unlinking the Mystery of the Beer Supply Chain
  1. Stoney
    June 22, 2012 | 8:28 am

    Where do I send the $200 to cover Ballast Point? :)

  2. Tiffany
    June 22, 2012 | 8:35 am

    Kendall, thanks for the follow-up. Education about alcohol laws can be super confusing for those in the industry, let alone those outside.

    To add to the confusion, each of the 50 States has their own set of alcohol laws!

    We’re quite fortunate in Washington, IMO, in that our breweries can license for self-distribution. Other states are not so lucky.

    Both in- and out-of-state breweries can license to self distribute in Washington State. Curious as to who’s licensed to sell in Washington? Check out the list on the WSLCB here:

    http://liq.wa.gov/taxreporting/licensee-list

    Top reasons beers we can’t get beers:
    1) Unlicensed to sell in Washington
    2) In Washington, but not enough supply

    Top reasons breweries don’t ship to Washington:
    1) Not enough supply to provide
    2) Not enough demand in our state – not cost effective
    3) Focused on “fresh” — quality control

    Thanks for helping explain this complex & controversial issue. Cheers!

  3. Tiffany
    June 22, 2012 | 8:44 am

    @Stoney, as a consumer you can locate an online retailer in the area where Ballast Point is sold and pay for direct-ship to your home or business. It’s pricey! Beer is heavy. I’ve ordered beer that I’ve wanted to try that’s legally unavailable for sale here, only to pay $36 and upwards for shipping on $12-15 worth of beer.

  4. Kendall Jones
    June 22, 2012 | 8:46 am

    Tiffany, thanks for finding those docs for us. I am updating the post to include “the list” of breweries licensed to sell in Washington.

  5. Kendall Jones
    June 22, 2012 | 8:47 am

    I have it on pretty good authority that Ballast Point has plans to start selling in Washington. Be patient. It’s coming.

  6. Brewforia.com
    June 22, 2012 | 8:55 am

    Great post Tiffany and thanks WA Beer Blog for the great follow up.

    One thing that I think the consumer doesn’t really grasp about distribution is its a two way street. There are lots of breweries out there being courted by distributors and have every market imaginable to them but its up to the breweries to decide which markets they want to be in. If a brewer doesn’t feel that your market is the right fit for them or they don’t have the excess capacity in production then they just aren’t going to expand into your market no matter how many distributors, accounts or beer geeks ask.

    The other thing that I’d say regards imports. We routinely get questions about one imported product or another and customers just can’t understand why we don’t have this one German Krystalweizen from a tiny town in Bavaria that they had when they were stationed there in 1973. There’s only so much shelf space available and American taste are evolving so even if that beer is exported to the US there’s a good chance it won’t be in the near future because American craft brewers are rapidly taking shelf space away from imported brands from Germany and the UK. Belgium and some of the high end specialty stuff is still doing well but retailers have to prioritize and they are always going to stock their shelves with what is in demand and right now its American Craft Beer.

  7. Kendall Jones
    June 22, 2012 | 9:12 am

    I can certainly understand why out of state breweries are clamoring at the WA border to come sell beer here. The Seattle area drinks way, way more craft beer than darn near any other city in the country. It’s a target-rich environment. (Yes Portland, I know you have us beat in that regard, but you’re the only one.) I can also understand why a brewery would not want to come get involved in this very crowded market. Better to go sell your product in a market that actually needs another IPA. :)

  8. Tiffany
    June 22, 2012 | 9:17 am

    @Brewforia, we also get dozens of requests for obscure little German beers every month. I guess what surprises me most is when you start to explain about the hyper-local beer culture in Germany and the person making the request says, “Yeah, the beer was only available in this one town in Germany.”

    If the small brewery doesn’t produce enough to ship to surrounding cities in its own country, why would it invest the tens of thousands of dollars to export over 4,200 miles to Washington?

    Some questions leaves me scratching my head in wonderment. (Now you regulars, don’t come in and play jokes on me by asking for obscure German beers! LOL!)

  9. Tiffany
    June 22, 2012 | 9:23 am

    There are some on the list that I wonder about, like SAINT ARNOLD BREWING COMPANY. They’re on the list, but I haven’t seen their delicious beers available here, unless they’re coming in through a chain? I guess that’s another blog post topic. ;-)

  10. Eric Berto
    June 24, 2012 | 10:51 am

    What about the crazy ABV laws as well? I’d trade a few of those breweries listed to get Sam Adams Utopias or a number of other brews here in this state (legally ;) )