One of the Richmond area’s homegrown craft beer makers, Hardywood Park Craft Brewery, said Monday that it will start distributing some of its beers in Atlanta.
Hardywood announced it is partnering with Atlanta Beverage Co., a distributor in Georgia with warehouses in Atlanta, Marietta, Griffin and Albany, Ga., to distribute its flagship beer brands such as Hardywood Singel, Hardywood Pils and Hardywood VIPA, with the roll-out starting in June.
“We have actually been in talks with Atlanta Beverage Co. for about three years,” said Eric McKay, Hardywood’s president and co-founder. “When they first reached out to us, it seemed like a great fit for a number of reasons.”
One reason is that Atlanta is a “relatively underdeveloped craft beer market that is growing quickly,” McKay said. Also Atlanta Beverage Co. has “a portfolio of beers that is complementary to what Hardywood offers,” he said.
The deal marks the first expansion of U.S. distribution since 2014 for Hardywood, whose beers are now sold to retail stores and restaurants in Virginia; Washington, D.C.; and eastern Pennsylvania, along with select international markets including the United Kingdom.
Hardywood, founded in 2011, was at the front end of what has become a wave of new craft breweries opening in the Richmond area in recent years, but the company’s ability to expand its distribution was limited because it has been brewing at capacity for three years at its original brewery on Ownby Lane in Richmond, McKay said.
That has changed now, since Hardywood recently expanded its capacity by opening a new $28 million brewery in the West Creek office park in eastern Goochland County, just off Route 288. The 55,000-square-foot plant, with state-of-the-art brewing equipment, will enable the company to move into more markets, though the company has indicated it will be selective about expansion.
“Our first priority with the new capacity is making sure our current markets are well-supplied,” McKay said. “We are growing in just about all of our existing markets, and we are growing relatively quickly in the U.K.”
Distribution in Atlanta will be limited at first.
“We will start with just a handful of accounts, like we did in Richmond seven years ago, and hopefully grow organically from there,” McKay said.
The accounts in Atlanta will include independent restaurants and retail stores such as specialty beverage shops. The goal is to add new beers to the Atlanta market over time, including Hardywood’s Virginia Roots series and Barrel series of beers.
“We are planning to enter potentially one or two additional markets in the year ahead, between Atlanta and Richmond,” McKay said.