New Belgium Enters its 46th State

Austin Ray

THE GIST
New Belgium is one state closer to filling out the map. The Colorado brewery has announced plans to expand distribution throughout Massachusetts beginning in February. “Massachusetts is a great beer state with a long tradition of embracing good beer,” said Rich Rush, the company’s northeast and Canada division sales director, in a news release. “It’s a very competitive landscape and we aim to bring something new to the scene with our dynamic portfolio and strong emphasis on beer culture.” The company will introduce itself to the market initially with flagship Fat Tire, Ranger IPA, Citradelic IPA, a seasonal release, and unspecified sour offerings.

WHY IT MATTERS
When New Belgium beers start flowing through the Bay State early next year, the nation’s fourth largest craft brewery by volume will officially be able to count 46 states where its beer is sold, just four shy of a true national footprint. This move is the latest in the brewery’s stated anticipation to have its beers sold in all 50 states by 2018. Though headquartered in Fort Collins, it’s likely Massachusetts, as well as its other east coast markets, will primarily be served beer produced at the company’s new brewing facility in Asheville, North Carolina. 
 
Production capacity clearly isn’t an issue for the company with regards to its “50 by ‘18” vision. Still, New Belgium is in a bit of a transitional period. 
 
That 50 by ‘18 plan was originally made clear by former CEO and current executive chair of the brewery’s board of directors, Kim Jordan. “It has occurred to me that not being a truly national player, in all 50 states, makes it difficult to earn national mandates from national chains,” she told Brewbound in 2013. “Over the years, we have been really methodical about opening new territories at a reasonable rate. I think you will see us pick up the pace of opening new markets because there is really is no reason to wait.” 

Last October, though, after a 25-year run at the helm of the company, Jordan was supplanted by Christine Perich, herself a 16-year veteran with the company. Just one year later, New Belgium announced Perich was departing to “pursue other opportunities.” Her replacement hasn’t been named.
 
That’s all to say, in a three-year interim, there’s been quite the shakeup at the top of the company. It hasn’t given any indication, though, that the 50 by ’18 plan has changed. And Massachusetts might be an early indicator that a little executive shuffle won’t stand in the way of its national ambition.

—Dave Eisenberg