Brewers Alliance accuses former distribution company of ‘bullying’

Brewery group says Corwin Beverage Co. trying to ‘strong-arm’ breweries into new distribution deals

A nonprofit organization that supports breweries in Southwest Washington says that its former distribution company is “strong-arming” and “bullying” its businesses, including Washougal’s 54-40 Brewing Company and Trap Door Brewing, and Camas’ Grains of Wrath Brewing, by assigning them to “alternate distributors” without consulting them.

Earlier this month, Ridgefield-based Corwin Beverage Company announced that it will dissolve Kendall’s Pioneer Distributing and Browar Polska Distribution after being purchased by PepsiCo.

“The Northbank Brewers Alliance was made aware of further action last week by Kendall’s Distribution to try and assign certain brands to an alternate distributor without consulting the brands themselves on the assignment,” according to a news release issued by the Alliance on Monday, March 27. “Northbank will always advocate for our members to have their own agency in their business decisions. Although the decision to assign brands needs consent of the individual breweries, Northbank opposes the strong-arming and bullying of brands into circumstances that may not fit their needs under the pretense of assisting with smooth transitions in an effort to claim financial benefit from assignment.”

Corwin Beverage Company representatives didn’t respond to a request for comment from the Post-Record. In an earlier statement, the company said that “it is actively exploring transition options regarding its craft beverage business through assignments to other distributors in accordance with its beverage distribution agreements.”

Grains of Wrath and 54-40 partnered with Kendall’s Pioneer and Browar Polska in March 2022 to distribute their products to retail shops, restaurants and taprooms throughout Washington state.

The distributors’ portfolio also included Barrel Mountain Brewing (Battle Ground), Everybody’s Brewing (White Salmon), Fortside Brewing (Vancouver), Thunder Island Brewing (Cascade Locks, Oregon) and many more.

Corwin’s decision to eliminate its beverage distributors “serves to injure the Northbank brands held by Corwin and will echo for years to come in southwest Washington craft beer,” according to the Northbank Brewers Alliance.

“We implore our amazing craft beer communities of the Northbank to get out and drink at your local brewery to support all of them in these uncertain times of consolidation,” the alliance stated. “Let your local pubs and restaurants know that you want your favorite local beers represented on their taplists and support those local pubs and restaurants that already have them. To stay involved in what is happening with your local breweries, like, follow and support them on social media. Our community is strong because of you. We do what we do because of you.”