New Belgium's highly-anticipated craft brews have finally arrived in southeast Florida. New Belgium Brewing Company, known for its flagship beer Fat Tire Amber Ale, signed with Gold Coast Beverage Distributors which will begin distributing their beer beginning July 29, according to Gold Coast's Craft and Import Specialty Manager Darren Dougherty.
Last February the Fort Collins-based company announced that Florida would become the 32nd state to have its beer.
Gold Coast will distribute 22-ounce bottles of New Belgium brew to restaurants and bars, or "on-premise" accounts, simultaneously across their four-state distribution area: Palm Beach, Broward, Miami and Monroe counties. Gold Coast is the largest distributor of beer in the state of Florida with over 26 million cases of beer sold last year.
Bottles will be sold to on-premise vendors for the first 30 days followed by drafts. The expectation is that bars and restaurants with strong bottle sales will be the first ones to have New Belgium taps. Expect to see bottles become available at retail locations, and other off-premise accounts, such as Total Wine and More and other stores after the first month as well.
Gold Coast will be distributing New Belgium's entire portfolio, including Fat Tire Amber Ale, Ranger IPA, Shift Pale Ale, seasonals and their small-batch Lips of Faith series. Shift typically comes in pint cans.
New Belgium Brewing Company is the third largest craft brewery and the eighth largest brewery overall in terms of production, producing over 750,000 barrels of beer in 2012. The company opened in 1991.
Apparently New Belgium was also considering expanding to the northeast United States, but they chose Florida, according to Dougherty, who says Gold Coast has been trying to persuade New Belgium to come to the southeast Florida market for a few years. But he's fairly certain that this probably did not have anything to do with their decision.
"By nailing down New Belgium brewery it was just a feather in the cap for us," Dougherty said. "Making it to Florida is a big statement. It's really the last frontier of beer exploration."
Dougherty said the decision was most likely based on logistics and the fact that Florida is budding market for craft beer. New Belgium has shipping capacity for only one region, since fuel and transportation tend to be cost-prohibitive when shipping their product to far-off markets.
This is Gold Coast's second craft beer distributorship announcement in recent months. In mid-April, Gold Coast began distributing Sweetwater beer to the southeast Florida market. Gold Coast holds offices in Pompano Beach, Miami and the Homestead area.
In April 2012 New Belgium announced plans to build a a second, 400,000-barrel-capacity-per-year brewery based in Asheville, N.C. However construction plans have been pushed back to March of 2014, with an opening date as early as 2015, due to increased demand. Last April, a fire damaged two buildings at the construction site. Authorities say the fire was intentionally set.
New Belgium Brewing Company is also known for being employee-owned and its eco-friendly practices.
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