I started national distribution in 2017. It took hours of calling, texting, emailing and sending beer to distributors that sold the brands we felt told a similar story to us and had what appeared to be success in large format bottles. After multiple phone conversations, emails back-and-forth and sending beers to them to taste with their staff, I finally landed my first out-of-state distributor.
I remember that phone call well. I was sitting in the car in front of my in-law’s house with the sun going down here and I was thinking how cool it was that it was only 6:00 in California. He was excited, I was excited and this was the beginning of great things for our little brewery. The Hentges brothers out in Bakersfield, CA had started this independent, funky distribution house with a cool name, Pipeline. Jeff and Jason didn’t have a sour beer in their portfolio and wanted to sell one from TX. I started connecting with the local retailers online, wrote a press release and reached out to some bloggers and news outlets. I got them hooked up with a freight company and we shipped these cats 7 thousand dollars’ worth of beer.
They got our mixed culture sour wheat beer, Blondine, in large format bottles and kegs. They got our blend of barrel-aged sour wheat beers that we release once each year in Dec, Heavenescent, in bottles and kegs. They even got the sour wheat beer blended with pickle juice that would go on to become our best-selling beer Nationwide. And, of course, they got small amounts of some limited releases. They were set with some great beers to launch New Braunfels Brewing Company into Central California.
It was a Helluva time. Except for the part where they never fucking paid us. So I started calling, texting and emailing again to try to get them to pay for beer that they had bought from us and sold to retailers. At first they were like “yeah, sorry, we’ll try to get a partial payment next week.” Then they were like…..well, nothing, the little shits didn’t answer my calls and texts. After a year of bullshit excuses I came to terms with the fact that they had stolen from us. For a minute a second-guessed the entire craft beer industry. Weren’t we all in this together? Didn’t we all want each other to succeed, arm in arm, against the evil empire of AB INBEV? Yeah it’s a business and competition was a real thing, but blatant theft?
Turns out I didn’t do my homework and so some of this is definitely on me. I called around to their suppliers (yes, AFTER we signed with them) and found out this is not only normal for them that they don’t even feel bad about it. Some of the breweries listed on their site went just shy of ballistic when I asked about them. One mentioned that he had them pay COD because this happened so often with him. Man, it would have been helpful to know that BEFORE I shipped all that great beer to Dipshit 1 and Dipshit 2.
Then… oh man, get this. After about a year, the broker from the shipping company they used to freight the beer actually called me to try to get me to pay for the shipping. Because these bastards didn’t pay him either.
So after a chuckle I realized that craft beer was still the industry that I loved. It was just Jeff and Jason Hentes from Pipeline Craft Beverage in Bakersfield, CA that were raging boner-faces.
So if you live in the LA, Bakersfield area, sorry. You can’t get our beer at your local retailers because we aren’t going to ship these douche-nozzles any more beer. We still love you, still want to put our beer in your face and still think Jeff and Jason deserve to get their due. But we’re gonna focus on making and selling our mixed culture sour beer.
Pucker to the People!
Pipeline Craft Beverage