It’s a question we’ve received more than once: “When is Allagash coming to my state?” And we’re not boasting. It’s honestly hard to see so much demand in states where we no longer, or have never sold our beer. So why don’t we start sending beer to more states, if people are asking for it?
Around ten years ago, we used to be available in almost twice the number states that we are now. We were in Washington, Oregon, Texas, Colorado, Florida, the list goes on. Back then, we had basically one salesperson, our founder, Rob. The phrase he uses to describe our distribution at that point is “a mile wide and an inch deep.” He’d travel from state to state, making stops, trying to support our great customers. But his schedule was both too crazy and not enough to support all those states. So we decided to pull back.
It was painful, but necessary. Necessary, because had we not pulled out, Allagash would have foundered. With our one-man salesforce, we weren’t able to help people understand who we were as a brewery and what we stood for—on top of not being able to help drinkers and beer-sellers wrap their heads around our various specialty beers.
So, instead of going wide, we decided to go deep. In those ten intervening years, we’ve been building out our sales force in a much smaller area. Our goal isn’t just to expand our brewery, but to be relevant to every single area we’re in. The people that make up our sales team are members of the communities that they cover. They partner with local charities, patronize locally-owned bars, and support organizations that connect us to the places our beer is available. We don’t just want to sell beer. We want to be a beneficial part of each local community we’re in.
The decision not to expand to new areas has another benefit to us as a brewery. Had we boosted distribution in the past ten years, we would have had to borrow a lot of money to increase capacity. That money would have then made us beholden to some other entity. Instead, we’ve grown steadily and under our own control—we’re still 100% privately owned—allowing us to make decisions that fit our core beliefs.
Just last year, we added a new canning line. If we had been constrained by debt, we would never have been able to make that happen so quickly. In 2018, we were also able to distribute our first batch of Coolship Resurgam, a beer that’s labor- and time-intensive to make. But we’re passionate about that beer, and we chose to put resources toward it.
Does this mean we’ll never expand? Definitely not. In fact, we recently expanded our territory to more of Pennsylvania and recently began releasing cans in New York City.
If we’re still not in your state by the time you read this blog, we apologize. In the short term, we thank you for your continued support. In the long term, we hope to make our way into your state in a meaningful way, so that you can enjoy our beer, and we can support your local community in kind.