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Case Study: Confluence Brewing Company

One of Iowa's largest craft breweries has grown by controlling its own distribution. From the early growler days to the current growth of cans, they’ve found that a personal touch helps them to stay in-demand and get beer to those who want it.

John Holl Oct 8, 2019 - 10 min read

Case Study: Confluence Brewing Company Primary Image

When John Martin, the president and co-founder of Confluence Brewing Company in Des Moines, Iowa, opened his brewery in 2012, he wanted to make sure that he had control over every aspect of the business from brewing to distribution. By taking advantage of state laws, he decided to distribute his beer himself, and now as the brewery nears 6,500 barrels annually, he’s showing no signs of stopping what has become an important and profitable part of his business.

“It’s a lot of beer to get out into the market, but you have to look at it as a separate business,” he says. “We’re one team, but each part has different things to do to make sure we’re being successful. Not being saddled with a distributor on day one has helped us, and we can control everything about the product from conception of a beer to when it gets poured into a glass in the bar.”

While the metropolitan area of Des Moines (about a 20-mile radius from the brewery and taproom) accounts for roughly 80 percent of the distribution business, Martin says some of their earliest accounts at the start of 2013 were 2 hours, roughly 130 miles, away in Iowa City.

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John Holl is the author of Drink Beer, Think Beer: Getting to the Bottom of Every Pint, and has worked for both Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine® and All About Beer Magazine.