Good Beer Hunting

Sightlines — Magnolia Brewing Company Signs Distribution Deal with Startup Wholesaler

San Francisco’s Magnolia Brewing has inked a new distribution deal, this one with the newly launched Mindful Distributors in Oakland, Calif. For Mindful, Magnolia is the first San Francisco-based brand in its own portfolio.

Before signing with nearby Matagrano, Inc. in 2015, Magnolia had self-distributed all of its highly renowned beers locally—solely on draft and on a fairly limited basis—since 1997. Then, in January of last year, the brewery raised $150,000 in less than a day to fund the type of expansion Bay Area drinkers had long pined for: an additional bewery, laboratory, and, yes, even packaging equipment. It would all add up to more beer, in a more convenient format, and available to a wider consumer base.

Magnolia’s is a story of extremely deliberate growth, which is somewhat unique in more ways than one. From a historical perspective, breweries today very often launch with a grow-fast mindset out of the gate. It’s also a bit unique in that Magnolia, given its age, was certainly in on the ground floor—okay, maybe the second floor—of the “craft beer renaissance.” They’re also situated in an appreciative craft beer city, but chose not to expand in a significant way until the market matured around them. (There were some smaller expansions involving second pub openings and the like, but nothing remotely close to its most recent endeavor.) It’s also worth noting that Magnolia filed for bankruptcy last December as it looked to restructure debt while in the midst of funding its expansion.

This is also a fairly major get for Mindful Distributors. In San Francisco, the Magnolia name carries some weight, and you could do much, much worse for your new distribution company than to debut there with the freshly packaged Magnolia lineup. Doing so accomplishes two obvious things. One, it gives Mindful the luxury of launching with an in-demand, and finally-growing brand. And two, signing Magnolia should, ostensibly, lend the company credibility in the eyes of other breweries, both local and out of state—breweries that are looking to explore the San Francisco market with a wholesale partner.

Next, it'll be interesting to see Magnolia's next move, and whether they continue to dig in deep at home or begin exploring outside markets.

—Dave Eisenberg

Magnolia Brewing becomes first Bay Area brewery to partner with Mindful Distributors [Beerpulse]