Good Beer Hunting

M.I.A. Beer Company Expands Distribution Throughout Ohio

M.I.A Beer Company is making its first foray out of Florida, expanding distribution to Ohio beginning in December. The company has signed on with Cavalier Distributing for coverage, which will launch the brand in select markets before gradually expanding throughout the state. The partnership isn’t the start of a new relationship, though—it’s the extension of a preexisting one. Cavalier, which operates wholesale businesses in Ohio, Indiana, and Florida, has been selling the brand in M.I.A.’s home state since the beginning of this year. “M.I.A. has been a great partner in Florida and makes great beer,” Amy Browns Taylor, director of marketing at Cavalier, tells GBH. “So we are thrilled to bring them to our customers in Ohio.”

This type of inter-state synergy is beneficial for both parties for fairly obvious reasons. For M.I.A., it affords the opportunity to break into a non-local market for the first time, bound to a wholesale partner with whom it already shares trust. For Cavalier, assessing the risks associated with taking on a new non-local brand becomes streamlined, as it knows how to move the product in another market. Thus, the ample overlap in Cavalier’s portfolio seems less than accidental.

For instance, Cavalier already sells Ohio's Crafted Artisan Meadery and Fat Head’s Brewery in both states. The overlap isn’t exclusive to brands native to the respective states Cavalier works in, however. It also sells Stone, Sixpoint, The Bruery, and 5 Rabbit in Florida and Ohio, and there are other brands it sells in all three of its demographics.

“There are certainly some efficiencies and crossover between our brands,” Browns Taylor says. “Ultimately, we are very selective with our portfolio and partnerships.”

Cavalier isn’t the only distributorship that operates in multiple states, of course. But building quasi-mirroring portfolios no less creates an interesting dynamic between two (or more) otherwise very different markets. This is especially true when it comes to smaller brands—like M.I.A. Beer Company, for instance—which are only available in those mirroring portfolios.

That said, M.I.A. is the first Florida-based brand Cavalier plans to widely distribute, and Browns Taylor said the company isn’t “actively seeking additional brands for our Ohio portfolio.” But it would certainly make sense, given what its broader portfolio looks like now, to eventually see the company continue to pull from its Florida (or Indiana) book of partners.
And yet, there remains the question of how a very beach-oriented, brightly packaged product will resonate with Ohioan drinkers. To that end, Aaron Spoores, Cavalier’s state sales manager in Ohio, pointed to the ever-important juice in the can. 
“It is never about the labels for us,” he says. “While M.I.A. beers may be beach-themed, it is the quality of their liquid that excited us the most. With that said, those retro cans are pretty rad.”
As for M.I.A., the company will break into Ohio behind its Miami Weiss Hefeweizen, Mega Mix Pale Ale, Tourist Trappe Belgian Tripel, and a number of seasonal and limited releases as they become available.
—Dave Eisenberg