Since the brewery’s inception nearly three years ago, Level Beer has been distributed by Running Man Distributing on the Oregon side of the Portland metro area. Now the Portland based brewer is moving distribution houses to Portland’s Maletis Beverage, also home to the distribution of Anheuser-Busch products.
This move is based on long term plans of growth opportunities and the ownership at Level Beer felt a move was necessary. Level Beer continues to want to grow its business at its two pubs in Portland but also seeks additional local outlets for its distribution. “We felt that given our current growth trajectory future plans we believe that Maletis is more capable of helping us achieve our goals,” said Level Beer co-owner Jason Barbee.
This change in distributors is taking place this week as Maletis will pick up its first order from Level Beer. This move will likely see more prominent placements in chain grocery stores, one of the reasons that it’s making this change while keeping beer quality its main focus. Maletis has much more opportunity in this market segment with its strong ties with its distribution of national, regional and local breweries.
“We’re working with Maletis right now to get the best projections we possible,” said Barbee. “We do expect to see a lot more chain store placements, but both need to cautious to grow at a pace that is sustainable and allows us to maintain quality.”
And as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to shake up the beer industry in how beer goes to market, this change in distributors will likely allow Level Beer to grow without the draft beer sales most breweries have grown accustom to. Until bars and restaurants are fully able to open, draft sales will not reach normal levels for some time.
Barbee expands on this topic. “It was already in the works, but the pandemic definitely accelerated it. Seeing the need to focus more on package and off premise sales sped things along.”
For now, this move to Maletis Beverage is only for the distributors reach in its Oregon territory and not for Maletis’ territory in Southwest Washington where Level Beer is signed to Craig Stein Beverage. “Maletis services more counties, so there’s definitely the hope that we’ll be popping up in additional areas, but again we’re both trying to make sure that we expand that footprint at a rate that production can meet,” said Barbee.
This move will also better serve Maletis in promoting this year’s 3-Way IPA from Fort George Brewery. Now the distributor will have two of the three collaborating breweries in its portfolio. The one outside brewery is Structures Brewing from Bellingham, WA that uses Day One Distribution in the Portland area.
One thing this move does do is question the future of Running Man Distributing. Now the distributor’s book consists of Ex Novo Brewing, Bend Brewing Co., Stickmen Brewing, Mazama Brewing, Heretic and a few others. On the distributor’s website its latest price book is from 2019.
This move will not affect its distribution agreements with Bigfoot Beverages in Central Oregon and Fort George Distribution along the Northern Oregon Coast and Craig Stein Beverage in Southwest Washington.