SanTan Brewing Co. owner and head brewer Anthony Canecchia, at the mid-October unveiling of his company’s 35,551-square-foot distribution facility, was hesitant to commit to when SanTan would distribute out of state.
Sometime in 2014 was as definitive as Canecchia would get.
It now appears he was simply playing it close to the vest.
SanTan, which in 2012 was rated the country’s 14th fastest growing craft brewery by The New Yorker, plans to begin distributing its core beers — Devil’s Ale, HefeWeizen Wheat, Epicenter Amber Ale and HopShock I.P.A. — in Southern California in the first quarter of this year.
Distribution to Northern California and Nevada should begin next quarter. SanTan also could invade Colorado, Texas and New Mexico in the second quarter.
The ramped up plans come after Wendy Weathers was hired last month as the brewery’s national business development manager.
“Anthony had those dates in mind when I came on board and we worked together to solidify them,” said Weathers, who joined SanTan from Oskar Blues Brewery in Colorado.
Weathers was Oskar Blues’ national sales director. She worked her way up from a part-time bookkeeper to sales coordinator and then helped the company go national.
“Wendy’s passion for craft beer and accomplishments at Oskar Blues are two of the many traits that complement the culture of SanTan Brewing,” Canecchia said.
It will be up to Weathers to secure agreements with local distributors in each market.
“That is the important part,” Weathers said. “We have to find distributors that value craft beer the way we do at SanTan Brewing. Once you’re with a distributor it’s really hard to get out of it. It’s for life.
“But we’re going to reach consumers who may not be aware of SanTan. I think it’s a brand consumers will really enjoy.”
Out-of-state distribution was the goal when SanTan opened its $6 million manufacturing and distribution facility late last year. SanTan was running at a 16,000-barrels-per-year pace at its downtown Chandler brewery. Canecchia and crew could brew 40,000 barrels annually at the new plant, with plenty of room for future expansion.
“We’re very fortunate that we currently sell our beer within 70 miles of our brewery and usually within three or four weeks. That will change when we go out of market and shelf life will become important,” Canecchia said in October of quality control.
Canecchia said he hopes to continue to grow barrel production by 50 percent each year, and to work with the Arizona Brewer’s Guild to increase the allowable state limit of 40,000 barrels before SanTan reaches that mark.
Phoenix Ale Brewery and Grand Canyon Brewing Co. are the only Arizona craft brewers to currently distribute out of state.
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