A selection of beers delivered throughout North County via Brew Catalog
Amid the ever-changing rules about how breweries may do business, at least one positive development remains constant: the ability of breweries to deliver beer directly to consumers’ doorsteps. This regulatory relief has offered an opportunity to retain loyal customers and sell more beer — that is, for beer and booze companies with the resources to offer home delivery.
For a collection of small breweries in North County, a new service emerged in April that offers same-day delivery to those who live north of the 56 freeway, and as far north as Fallbrook. BrewCatalog.com currently delivers cans and crowlers from ten businesses, including Culver Beer Co, Dogleg Brewing, Dos Desperados, Ebullition Brew Works, Helia Brewing, Legacy Brewing Co., Northern Pine Brewing, Wild Barrel Brewing Company, My Yard Live, and hard kombucha maker Local Roots.
The small startup was built on the hustle of young entrepreneur Jason McBride. The recent Cal State San Marcos graduate originally teamed up with partners to develop an online ordering platform for self-distributing breweries: something beer buyers could use to view quickly and order kegs. But when the pandemic hit, McBride explains, “The landscape of wholesale changed.” While the closing of bars and restaurants all but tanked the need for wholesale ordering, because of the new rules allowing delivery, he says, “We took that opportunity to pivot to direct to consumer.”
He reconfigured the website for retail customers, and he picks up beers from each brewery for daily deliveries. Delivery is free over $100, and ranges from $1-7 depending on zip code otherwise. Breweries pay a commission on each order, which proves less than the cost of delivering their own beers.
“We were going to do the delivery thing,” says Culver Beer co-founder Ben Fairweather, “but we’re a small team as is, so it was going to be a tough logistical thing on our plate.”
“It’s cheaper than paying for a vehicle, paying for staff and insurance and all that,” adds Northern Pine cofounder Anne Ortega, “so it’s working fantastic.”
The service may be helping the breweries reach new fans. McBride reports a modest yet steady stream of orders — around 30 a week — and that he often sees repeat customers. He says they tend to re-order beers from their favorite breweries, but typically try out new breweries with each order. “They’re trying breweries they weren’t trying before, in addition to the ones they already like.”
Four months since launching, McBride still handles the deliveries himself, as he can’t be sure whether regulations will continue long enough to invest in an additional vehicle or driver. However, he remains optimistic that California will see the merit in making this regulatory relief permanent. “I don’t consider them de-regulations,” he says, “I consider them new regulations.”
His delivery customers seem to feel the same way. McBride continually asks them for feedback, and tends to hear the same thing: “Even before the pandemic, they wanted their beer delivered.