close-up of wine bottles in a wine cellar
By Jason Emerson
Three Central New York-based beverage makers — including two from Cazenovia — have recently announced partnerships with major distribution companies that will expand the reach of their products throughout the Northeast United States.
Empire Brewing Company, of Cazenovia and Syracuse, and 1911 Established, of Lafayette, both this week announced partnerships with United States Beverage to handle sales and distributor relationships throughout the Northeast; while Life of Reilley Distilling and Wine Company, of Cazenovia-Nelson, has signed with multiple distributors throughout New York state and New Jersey and is currently interviewing larger distributors for a broader reach.
These deals are more evidence that New York craft-made beer, spirits, cider and canned cocktails are expanding in popularity beyond their local and regional borders.
Since opening its 60-barrel farm brewery and tasting room last June in Cazenovia, Empire Brewing Company has been able to bottle its beer for the first time and grow beyond the Syracuse region. Now, with the new partnership with United States Beverage, which began Feb. 1, Empire will expand throughout the Northeast and into markets it would not be able to penetrate on its own, said David Katleski, owner of Empire Brewing.
“Our sales team consisted of six people spread out throughout New York and New Jersey. It became clear when we opened the new brewery that more sales support was needed to growth the brand,” Katleski said. “When it came time to select a partner, United States Beverage was our first choice due to their expertise and reputation within the industry.”
“When we were approached by Empire, we were ecstatic,” said Dan DeLuca, vice president of sales at United States Beverage. “Empire was one of the original craft beers of New York, and with the addition of the brewery and brew pub, there is great potential to expand this brand beyond their current distribution. It also aligns with our strategy to diversify U.S. Beverage’s portfolio to include regional American craft leaders.”
Empire’s lineup of bottled beer to be distributed by USB will include Skinny Atlas Light, White Aphro, Slo Mo’ IPA, East Coast Amber Ale and Black Magic Stout.
United States Beverage also partnered this week with 1911 Established, an award-winning Central New York-based cider and spirits company in Lafayette, to manage sales and distributor relationships for their small batch craft cider brand in the USA. This partnership will support the brand’s plans for growth on the East Coast.
“Having a partner like United States Beverage will allow us to continue to focus on creating our small batch unique ciders while also working to become the regional brand for the North East and East Coast of the U.S.,” said Eddie Brennan, co-owner of 1911 Established. “Not only do they have a world class sales and marketing team but, like us, they are an independently owned and operated business and really understand what makes us tick.”
Currently 1911 Established Hard Cider is distributed in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
According to a press release, 1911 will continue to cover its Upstate New York business directly, while United States Beverage will handle all sales outside of Upstate New York.
Also announcing new distribution deals this week is Cazenovia-based distiller Life of Reilley Distilling and Wine Company. The company is launching with Try-It Distributing in Buffalo and with Saratoga Eagle in the Capital District on March 1, and preparing to branch out even farther, said co-owner Ben Reilley. Life of Reilley also has selected its New York City and New Jersey distributors for 2017, but is not ready to name them yet, and is currently interviewing multiple larger distributors to expand outside of the Northeastern U.S. this year, he said.
“Shioban and I are thrilled we have continued to find distribution partners that not only have our brand’s success in mind. but we’ve made sure we partner with distribution companies that have similar values to our family — and we’ve found those in these new partnerships,” Reilley said. “As we grow from a regional to a northeast brand, we will continue to try to form similar partnerships to both grow our business as well as the distribution portfolio.”
Jason Emerson is editor of the Cazenovia Republican and Eagle Bulletin newspapers.