Introducing: “Brand Awareness”

In Beer News by Ryan

“Brand Awareness” is our newest feature at Guys Drinking Beer and aims to keep you updated on the newest craft beer additions to the Chicago market and to track brands who’ve jumped from one distributor to another.

This first iteration highlights movements among the big distributors and a few boutique ones. We know there are other distributors out there, importers and the like, and we’ll be establishing relationships with them to ensure this feature is as all-encompassing as possible. Until then, click through the tabs below to see what beers have been added by a half-dozen wholesalers over the last few months.


Recent additions for this boutique distributor include 51st Ward, which is the venture of former Urban Legend Brewing co-founder Tim Hoerman, Old Town Abbey, a Belgian-inspired beer company currently brewing at Galena Brewing Company and the aforementioned Galena Brewing Company.
In May we told you that Chicago Beverage Systems added Wisconsin Brewing Company and later that month broke the news that they added Lazy Magnolia too. Over the summer CBS quietly added Empirical Brewery, which launched earlier this month with a 100+ IBU IPA, and SlapShot Brewing. The aforementioned beers are also being distributed throughout the Chicago suburbs via the MillerCoors OneIllinois Chicago Cluster.
Legendary Chicago wholesaler Louis Glunz Inc, which has seen some brand attrition as of late, brought on Baderbräu over the summer. The revived label has built upon its initial offering of a pilsner to include a India Pale Lager, Bock and Oktoberfest.
The recently crowned largest Bud distributor in Illinois has slowly been upping its craft beer street cred. In April Lakeshore Beverage lured Founders Brewing away from Glunz. Over the summer the distributor added Jared Rouben’s long-anticipated Moody Tongue Brewing, Atlas Brewing — which was formerly with Artisan Beverage — and most recently Bad Martha Beer out of Martha’s Vineyard. Interestingly Rouben had a hand in starting that brewery. Bad Martha beers available here include their Vineyard Ale, Summer Ale and Island IPA.
Windy City Distribution, which is also owned by the same parent company (Reyes Beverage) as Chicago Beverage Systems but competes against them, added a meadery and a cider-importer. Crafted Artisan Meadery out of Mogadore, Ohio and importer Ciders of Spain both launched this week with Windy City.
Wirtz Beverage has added a pair of ciders to its portfolio. The first came in June when Finnriver signed a deal with Wirtz, which has divisions in multiple states, to distribute its ciders in Nevada and Chicago. Ciders available here include a Black Currant Cider, Pear Cider, Dry Hopped Cider and Habanero Cider. In July Seattle Cider Company joined the Wirtz family and is bringing with it five ciders to Illinois, including a soon-to-be seasonably appropriate Pumpkin Spice Cider.

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About the Author


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Equal parts beer nerd and policy geek, Ryan is now the curator of the Guys Drinking Beer cellar. The skills he once used to dig through the annals of state government as a political reporter are now put to use offering unique takes on barrel-aged stouts, years-old barleywines and 10 + year verticals.