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Top 6 Beer Distributors in the U.S.

Choosing the right beer distributor is crucial for success. Learn the benefits, how to pick the right one, and get a shortlist of the best in the US.

The right beer distributor is often the linchpin for a successful beer brand. The process of choosing a distributor to partner with, however, can be challenging. In this post, we’ll dive into the benefits of working with a beer distributor, how to pick the right one for you, and share a short list of some of the best beer distributors in the U.S. to get you started on your search.

Why Partner with a Beer Distributor?

As more craft breweries open and expand across the country, businesses need to find more efficient ways to distribute their products nationwide. Small beer companies may not have the means to transport, store, and deliver their goods to non-local retailers; many states even prevent breweries from distributing their own beer. In these situations, beer distributors are needed.

Beer distributors have the means and permits to transport beer of all varieties nationwide on behalf of manufacturers. Additionally, beer distributors take full responsibility for the goods in transit until they are finally sold to the retailer, which means your company won’t take a loss if the product gets damaged along the way. The right distributor makes managing your business easier and gives you more room to grow.

How to Pick The Best Beer Distributor

Selecting a beer distributor can be intimidating at first. After all, you’re trusting your product with an unknown third party–much could go wrong. This is why you need to select a distributor carefully, making sure they meet certain criteria.

Identify Your Preferred Markets & Service Locations

Before beginning the search for a beer distributor, take time to identify your target market and preferred service locations for your product. Doing this first may streamline the process and eliminate distributors from the list who can’t fulfill your expectations. You want to choose a distributor that not only serves your chosen markets but also has experience in those segments.

See Where Your Brand Fits in Their Portfolio

Next, review the distributor’s portfolio. Do they exclusively work with beer brands, or are their clients more varied? Will your brand complement their portfolio or compete with other brands, either internally or externally? When choosing a beer distributor to partner with, you want to make sure your brand will be treated fairly and given the attention it deserves. Don’t be dissuaded if your brand is in stark contrast to other brands in their portfolio, however; you could be just what the distributor is looking for to expand their portfolio.

Find a Distributor with a Good Reputation

Reputation is everything in the business world. Do your due diligence by finding distributors with the best reputations, whether you discover that through Google reviews, word-of-mouth, or other means. Check with other local breweries or others within your market that may have insights on good distributors to partner with. You can also use this strategy to find the beer distributors you should avoid.

Alignment with Their Cultural and Company Values

Partnering with a distributor can be a long-term commitment, so finding a distributor you trust and align with is huge. Working with a company you clash with in terms of culture and values can be frustrating and difficult, no matter their reputation. Take time to research the distributor’s philosophy, mission, and team culture; chat with account representatives to gauge whether or not your brands align.

6 Top Beer Distributors in the U.S.

We’ve reviewed some of the best beer distribution companies in the U.S. and distilled them down into a short list for your convenience. 

1. Anheuser-Busch (Nationwide)

Anheuser-Busch is probably the most famous beer distributor in the country, responsible for well-known brands Bud Light, Michelob Ultra, Stella Artois, and more. More and more craft breweries are also partnering with ​​Anheuser-Busch to distribute small-batch beers on a larger scale. AB has countless resources to its name, which means you should be able to achieve great things by partnering with this mega-giant beer distributor.

Anheuser-Busch also owns hundreds of other beer distributors across the country–you can view the list here.

2. Columbia Distributing (Pacific Northwest)

Born from humble beginnings in the 1930s, Columbia Distributing now partners with breweries to distribute products throughout Oregon and Washington. Though Columbia boasts big names like Miller Lite and Coors in their portfolio, they are just as passionate about partnering with craft breweries of any size to help distribute their products throughout the Pacific Northwest.

3. Reyes Beverage Group (Nationwide)

Reyes is another titan beer distributor with a successful and massive portfolio. If you partner with Reyes, you’ll benefit from their abundant resources and logistical capabilities. If your goal is to distribute your product nationwide with a distributor who can support you as you grow, Reyes Beverage Group is a fantastic choice.

Reyes Beverage Group also owns many other beer distribution companies, such as Gold Coast Beverage Distributors Inc., Allied Beverages, and more.

4. Manhattan Beer Distributors (New York Metro Area)

As one of the fastest-growing distributors in the U.S., Manhattan Beer Distributors is leading the way as a trusted partner for breweries across the country. Serving New York City, Long Island, and Hudson Valley, Manhattan Beer Distributors is a fierce ally for anyone wanting to share their products with the New York metropolitan area.

5. Crescent Crown Distributing (Arizona and Louisiana)

Crescent Crown is a distributor committed to quality and seeks to deliver the freshest beverages no matter whether the product is from a national brand or small, local brewery. This ambitious distributor seeks to be the nation’s leader in distribution standards.

6. Ben E. Keith Company (Texas)

The Ben E. Keith Company has been around since 1906 (that’s over a century!) as a leader in the food and beverage distribution industry. Ben E. Keith certainly has an excellent reputation as a distributor of premium beverages. This company is proud to serve customers with the most exceptional products, so if you have a unique brew you want to distribute throughout Texas, give Ben. E Keith a call.

Does your portfolio include more than beer? Check out our U.S. wine distributors guide and our list of top wine distributors in Canada.

Expand Your Reach

Trust yourself to find a beer distributor that’s perfect for your brand. Once you do, you’ll be able to break into new markets, enjoy success, and grow profoundly as a business.

‍See how a store and product locator can help you in your beer marketing efforts in the U.S. and Canada. Get a store locator demo from Grappos today!

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Eric Kunisawa

Founder & CEO

Eric Kunisawa is the founder of Grappos. He's been successfully helping businesses connect customers with their products since 2008.

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