SweetWater Brewing is expanding to Chicago via Lakeshore Beverage. The Atlanta, GA brewer’s beers will be arriving in the spring of 2015.
Atlanta, Georgia-based SweetWater Brewing is migrating north to Chicago, entering a distribution deal with Lakeshore Beverage. The brewery is planning a spring launch. The initial lineup of beers, according to Lakeshore Beverage, will include 420 Extra Pale Ale, Blue, IPA and Take Two Pils. Other beers will follow. A release notes SweetWater beers will be available on tap and in cans and bottles.
Back in January we noticed SweetWater had cleared a hurdle to enter the Illinois market by acquiring a Non-Resident Dealer’s License. The license allows out-of-state brewers to ship beer into the state for distribution. The brewery denied anything was afoot at the time but clearly we were on to something.
Lakeshore Beverage appears to be a natural landing spot for SweetWater. The largest Bud distributor in Illinois is owned by the Hand Family Companies, which is based out of Clarksville, Tennessee. SweetWater distributes its beer through four Hand Family owned wholesalers in that state: Chattanooga, Clarksville, Cookeville and Memphis.
SweetWater is ranked among the top 20 craft brewers, by sales volume, according to the Brewers Association. Last SweetWater churned out nearly 150-thousand barrels of beer, which is a 32-percent increase from the previous year and came on the heels of a 19-million dollar expansion.
SweetWater is currently available in 12 states and Washington D.C. The addition of Chicago and plans to move into Texas — plus a few other unnamed markets — will bring SweetWater’s total reach to 16 states by the middle of 2015, according to a release.
The brewery notes that Chicago’s craft beer scene rivals that of any other city in the country as the primary reason for expanding.