New Holland Taps Oregon and Washington

Austin Ray

THE GIST
Michigan’s New Holland Brewing has announced plans to expand distribution throughout Oregon and Washington beginning next month, solidifying a presence in the Pacific Northwest. The company has signed on with Columbia Distributing for coverage throughout the states.

“We’ve had many requests from fans to bring our products to this market, especially since we poured at the Oregon Brewer’s Festival this past year,” said Brett VanderKamp, New Holland’s co-founder and president, in a news release. “It’s pretty amazing to go to such an influential part of the craft world with a partner who is ready to help us tell our story to every beer drinker in Oregon & Washington.”

WHY IT MATTERS
At a certain point, one must imagine that the Pacific Northwest’s status as “influential” will evolve to be seen as “overcrowded.” Many consider the region to be America’s best, but in 2016, “best” is in some ways synonymous with having tons of variety. Which can make it hard for a non-local brewer looking to break into the market. 

We touched on this last week when Founders, another Michigan stalwart, announced plans to bring distribution to the Pacific Northwest. There, we recalled Jeff Alworth’s Critical Drinking piece, in which he wrote, “Portland is not likely to turn into a great market for Michigan breweries, no matter how much we enjoyed Michigan beer [at CBC] a couple weeks ago.” 
 
That’s not lost on Jesse Ferber, vice president of craft and imports at Columbia. “We’ve reached the point where just another IPA won’t cut it,” he said in the news release. “We looked very hard at a number of Midwest brewers over the past year. New Holland’s portfolio is distinctly different from most other brewers.” 
 
To that end, New Holland has changed things a bit in recent years, namely on the recipe and packaging front. In early 2015, the company tweaked the recipe for its Mad Hatter IPA, bringing it more in line with the consumer tastes of today. In addition to infusing it with Cascade and Citra hops, the company also emboldened its alcohol content, bringing it up from 5.25% to 7% ABV. It was the company’s “disciplined approach,” though, that convinced Columbia that New Holland could thrive in the saturated Pacific Northwest. 

“They have a well-conceived strategy of seeding the top craft-centric accounts with a limited number of offerings, then moving out from the center into a broader retail base,” Ferber added.

With the addition of Oregon and Washington, New Holland's distribution footprint will include 34 states.

—Dave Eisenberg