Brewers Association

Craft Beer Wholesaler Considerations

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

  • use in evaluating the success of current wholesalers
  • as a helpful list for brewers when evaluating wholesalers in a new territory
  • as a list of items wholesalers may wish to focus on when presenting to brewers seeking a new wholesaler.

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


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 wholesaler 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 measureable 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 wholesaler been a public advocate for franchise law reform?  Does the wholesaler 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°
           - Kegs:  40°