Add group of former NH-based Clarke Dist owners – Richard Clarke, Jay Clarke and Kary Shumway – to growing list of ex-distribs who decided to buy into the craft brewer side of biz, especially AB distribs (see below). Wormtown Brewery co-founder Tom Oliveri sold his remaining (minority) stake to newly formed “Clarke Group,” co announced last Friday. And as part of sale, Wormtown will build a separate pilot brewery/taproom in Keene, NH, in space that “formerly served as the home of Clarke Distributors, Inc,” per release. Recall, Wormtown already majority-owned by another ex-distrib, David Fields, who sold stake in Consolidated Bevs and bought into Wormtown in late 2013. Co has taken off since, growing from just 2,500 bbls in 2013 to nearly 15K bbls last yr with plans to reach 27-28K bbls in 2017 (see Jan 23 issue).
6 Ex-AB Distribs from 6 Different States Makin’ Headway with Craft Brewers; Karbach Example Wormtown ain’t the only ex-distrib backed brewer makin’ headway. Mich’s Perrin Brewing is run by ex-West Side Beer family member and part-owner, Keith Klopcic, alongside parent co Oskar Blues/Fireman Capital. It jumped to 23,500 bbls last yr and expects 30-40K bbls this yr. In just its 2d year in biz, CT’s Stony Creek, run by former Dichello part-owner Ed Crowley, his wife Peggy and son Ed Crowley Jr., quickly grew to nearly 17K bbls in 2016, per Brewers Assn estimates. SC’s Palmetto Brewing is owned by Pearlstine family that sold off 6 mil case AB house in 2012. It grew to approx 10K bbls in 2016, according to BA estimates. And remains to be seen how successful Speakeasy venture can be, but former Oakland AB distrib Ces Butner acquired Speakeasy from bankruptcy this May.
What do each of these folks have in common? They’re all former AB distribs. That’s 6 ex-AB distribs in 6 different states that opted to go craft brewer route. Also gotta note, Karbach certainly belongs to list of ex-distribs gone brewer (quite successfully at that). It was founded by serial entrepreneurs Ken Goodman and Chuck Robinson who built up craft distrib CR Goodman in TX before selling to AB distrib Ben E Keith in 2008, CR Goodman in CO which sold to Breakthru Bev last yr. And of course Karbach itself sold to AB. Karbach shipped around 80K bbls last yr and initially projected it could reach over 100K bbls in 2017, all in TX.