Summit Pulls from Six States, Cuts Distro Map by More than Half

Austin Ray

THE GIST
Summit Brewing announced yesterday it would be pulling out of six states, a move that significantly cuts the company’s distribution footprint. In a statement, the St. Paul staple says it made the “difficult decision” to cease distribution to Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Nebraska, and Michigan in order to “strengthen our core and meet demand in our home market.”

“For over 30 years, Summit Brewing has focused on one thing: making the best, highest-quality beer for craft enthusiasts. Along the way, we’ve been invited into your homes, businesses, and refrigerators, and we’ve been fortunate to make friends and fans out of folks across the country,” the company says. “This work, however, is not without its challenges, and recent changes to the industry have made getting our beer to retailers and to you increasingly difficult.”

WHY IT MATTERS
Reached by GBH, Summit did not provide any additional explanation as to why the company was pulling out of the half dozen states.

However, this isn’t the first territory secession the company has undergone in the recent past. Just seven months ago, it also announced its withdrawal from Missouri, Kansas, and Arkansas. Meaning, in the last half-year or so, the 30-year-old company has cut nine states from its map, more than halving its state count from this point last year, from 14 to five. Even before that, though, the company had been retreating back home, it seems: as recently as 2012, it sold beer in 17 states.

Although Summit, Minnesota’s second largest brewery behind Schell’s, declined to explain the decision further, some evidence for a reason why might be found in a Star Tribune profile published last year. According to the piece, the proliferation of breweries in and around Minnesota has cut dramatically into Summit’s business, reportedly decreasing “Summit’s 10 percent annual growth rate of the last decade to 2 percent [in 2015].” The company, however, told the paper at the time it was confident in its future, buoyed by growing its canned line as well as its Unchained Series, which focuses on unique special releases that fetch a higher price.

It was unclear as of press time how much beer the company had been sending to the states in question. But Summit concluded its statement by saying it looks forward to returning in the future to the six states it cut.

—Dave Eisenberg

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Where can I get a Summit [Summit Brewing]