Stone Distributing Co. is adding new categories to its ever-growing portfolio.
Since launching in 1999, Stone Distributing Co., the San Marcos-headquartered distribution arm of Escondido brewery Stone Brewing Co., has focused mostly on craft breweries. To date, it distributes roughly 40 craft beer brands, including Societe Brewing Co., Modern Times, AleSmith, Mikkeller Brewing San Diego, The Lost Abbey and Thorn Brewing Co., among others.
Recently, due to growing popularity and consumer demand, Stone Distributing Co. began signing on companies in other rising beverage segments, according to Maria Stipp, the company’s CEO. As a result, Stone Distributing Co. is now the supplier partner for San Diego’s hard kombucha brand Boochcraft, Santa Monica-headquartered, alcohol-infused cold brew coffee company Bomani Cold Buzz and Villager Spirits, a locally-based ready-to-drink spirits manufacturer.
Others to newly join the Stone Distributing Co. roster include: Crown & Hops Brewing Co., a female, veteran and black-owned beer brand from Inglewood, Calif.; and Tarantula Hill Brewing Co, based in Thousand Oaks and whose lead brewer and master brewer are former Stone Brewing team members.
The Nation’s Largest
Because of the additions, Stone Distributing Co. now accounts for nearly 20% share of the Southern California craft beer market, said Stipp, which is the nation’s largest.
“We have 20% of the craft beer market in Southern California, and that is a really strong position as far as market share is concerned. But, we started thinking more about how to not only build on our craft beer pillar of distribution, but also add brands in hard kombucha, hard seltzer and ready-to-drink categories. As a result, we added four additional partners recently,” she said. “Bomani Cold Buzz is our first dedicated hard coffee beverage. Elsewhere, Villager Spirits are ready-to-drink canned cocktails, uniquely positioned as gluten free with a lot less sugar than the competition and entirely new to the market. We are taking on the initial run of distribution. This will be the first dedicated ready-to-drink brand locally based in Southern California.
“We look at the craft beer category and we are starting to see seltzer, ready-to-drink cocktails and hard kombucha playing in the same section of the store,” Stipp continued. “Consumers are very interested to try new and different things – there is a lot to choose from now. And, we are trying to be a part of the new chapter.”
Kai Drewry, co-founder and COO of Bomani Cold Buzz, credits the company’s success in part to working with distributors like Stone Distributing Co.
“We are incredibly proud and thankful for how we’ve been able to maneuver through all of the hurdles 2020 has thrown our way,” he said. “We believe that our success is largely a result of working with the right partners.”
Largest Independent Distributor
Stone Distributing Co. is the largest independent craft beverage distributor in Southern California and the country, according to the company. It covers the seven counties of SoCal and services more than 200,000 points of distribution.
Stone Distributing Co. accounts for 20% of the total Southern California market share for off-premise and 19% in terms of overall tap handle shares – or on-premise – said Stipp. In San Diego, the company accounts for 27% of tap handle shares, which is about 80% of 2019 draft levels, she said.
Additionally, Stone Distributing Co.’s market share in the San Diego craft beer category is 30% and 17% in Los Angeles, she added. Overall, business is up 11% from last year.
This is all really good news, she said.
“We worked hard to get that growth,” said Stipp. “I’m sure there will be continued opportunities to work with new suppliers. We are always looking for new categories coming to the market.”
Stone Distributing Co.
CEO: Maria Stipp
HEADQUARTERS: San Marcos
BUSINESS: Distribution arm for Stone Brewing Co.
NOTABLE: Started off distributing its own brand before expanding.