Selecting a Distributor

Things to Consider

Distributor Commitment

  • Is management committed to craft?
  • Is the portfolio growing at a rate commensurate with the craft category?
  • Are they selective in the craft brands they choose to distribute, or are they brand collectors?
  • Is there a dedicated craft manager?
  • Does the distributor actively educate/train sales staff in the craft segment?
  • Does the distributor give due attention to the craft brands in its portfolio? Do they make Key Account Presentations in support of craft brands?
  • Are they receptive/flexible when it comes to adding Seasonal/”one-off” craft SKU’s?

Sales Planning/Execution

  • Is there a market plan with specific and measurable goals?
  • Are they committed to spending to achieve results? Will they commit to a budget?
  • Do they allow craft brands to present to sales meetings? Do they include craft brands in programming/incentives?
  • Is there monthly programming – Management by Objective (MBO) or Pay For Performance (PFP)? Do they track results? Will they provide monthly reports?
  • Do they use POS? Do they have in-house design and printing capabilities?
  • Do they monitor competitors pricing and ads?

Building Craft Awareness

  • Does the distributor promote craft brands in the local market? Do they get involved in events that promote craft beer and educate consumers?
  • Is there a craft focus on their website? Do they have a Beer Finder?
  • Do they regularly e-mail craft news with key retailers?
  • Has the distributor been a public advocate for franchise law reform? Does the distributor favor franchise law reform that allows brewers to move to another distributor for cause?


  • Commitment to draft line cleaning and quality.
  • Do they have refrigerated storage? – Cases: 50°F – Kegs: 40°F


The Brewers Association’s Market Development Committee developed these criteria and considerations for distributors and brewers to:

  • Use in evaluating the success of current wholesalers
  • As a helpful list for brewers when evaluating distributors in a new territory
  • A a list of items distributors may wish to focus on when presenting to brewers seeking a new distributor.

The list may change as the committee revisits items on the list over time.