Baton Rouge now has its first new beer distributor in almost 40 years. Pelican Craft Brands is hitting the roads this month carrying only 100% American independent craft beer. If you aren’t plugged into the process, this may not sound like a big deal, but this is a huge step for the not-so-huge beer guys. We found out what this step forward means for craft beer companies, and we chatted with Pelican owner Chris Peneguy on his goals and plans for his beer brands.
Distributors matter to craft breweries in Baton Rouge – until this venture, to distribute beer here, companies had to the option to use only two massive distributing companies. These are the same companies who distribute Bud Light, Coors, Miller, and a large number of other beer makers. These other beer makers may technically be craft brewers but are often owned by the same companies that make these big name beers.
To be able to have a brewery license in Baton Rouge, companies need a contract with a distributor to deliver their beer because it’s illegal for breweries to deliver their own products. Therefore, they have to rely on the distributor to inform stores and bars of product offerings. Small companies, who are lucky enough to be approved and distributed by one of these big names, are still competing for orders against these major brands, making it hard for small businesses to break through the crowd.
Pelican Craft Brands hopes to even the playing field by only carrying independently-owned craft beer brands. For now that includes Baton Rouge-based Southern Craft and the city’s two coming-soon breweries, Rally Cap and Istrouma Biere la Republique, with more in the works in and outside of Louisiana. Peneguy says his goal is to “keep small, local beer makers in business by allowing them more access to the market.”
To succeed with these smaller beer brands in tote, he plans to treat his vendors and brewers like partners, make ordering and delivery easy and carrying a variety of styles.
What does this mean for your casual consumer of beer? Peneguy says you’ll get access to more (and better) beer. With so much excitement happening in the local beer industry in Baton Rouge this year, it’s great to have someone bringing all that goodness to your favorite stores and bars.
Next time you go to grab a brew, grab a local brew. And always, do so responsibly.
Follow Pelican Brands progress on Instagram.