The History of MillerCoors Beer

The MillerCoors Company is the consummation of two immigrants who never met, but who grew up working in European breweries. In 1855, Frederick Miller, from Germany, bought an abandoned brewery in a Wisconsin valley near clear waters and the raw materials of neighboring farms. In 1873, Adolph Kohrs, a former stowaway from Prussia, bought a ramshackle brewery in Colorado. By the 1950s, each company’s beer distributors were selling more than a million barrels a year. By 2008, Miller and Coors were partners in a global brewing conglomerate. In 2015, it sold for $107 billion.

Photo of an old Miller Lite neon for a bar window

The Innovators

Since their inception, Miller and Coors have been leaders in experimentation. Miller was one of the first breweries to pasteurize beer, and both were pioneers in mechanical refrigeration. Miller made the first American ice-brewed beer, while Coors was first to sell wide-mouth cans. Coors and its beer distributors launched a national recycling revolution by offering a penny for every can returned, and Miller ignited the low-calorie beer wars with its infamous Miller Lite product.

Great Taste! Less Filling!

The thought of America’s first light beer occurred in the early 1970s in Munich, Germany, where Miller’s president, John Murphy, was dining with a friend who was trying to lose weight. When the waiter recommended a “diät-pilsener” (a low-sugar, pale lager for diabetics), Murphy ordered for himself. After a few sips, he said, “There’s room for something like this in America.” Before long, Miller Brewing had discovered a recipe that broke down higher-calorie starches. After tweaking it to produce, in the brewery’s words, “A low-calorie brew that tastes like beer,” the birth of Miller Lite spawned a new generation of beer drinkers, beer distributors, and a “light” revolution in American drink and food.

Craft Beers

Amid the burgeoning popularity of craft beers worldwide, all the major breweries scrambled to contend with the competition while chasing demand. After joining forces, Miller and Coors poured more marketing dollars into online and social media and even created new brands like Blue Moon. Next came a new corporate division, Tenth and Blake Beer Co., which orchestrated such operations as Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Co., the Blue Moon beers, others created by Coors, and imported brands like Pilsner Urquell.

Millions to a Billion

In 1969, Philip Morris bought Miller for $130 million from Frederick Miller’s heirs. In 2002, Philip Morris sold Miller to South African Breweries (SAB) for $3.6 billion in stock and $2 billion in debt to form SABMiller. In 2005, Coors merged with Molson to form Molson Coors Company. In 2007, SABMiller and Molson Coors formed a joint venture called MillerCoors. And finally, in 2015, Anheuser-Busch InBev announced its acquisition of competitor SABMiller for $107 billion.


Just How Does the Liquor Flow? A Look at US Beverage Distribution

Anyone who has ever marveled at the dizzying number of mainstream and specialty brands a favorite watering hole keeps on tap has probably wondered just how that big truck with the roll-up sides gets stocked with so many different kinds of drinks. The answer is quite interesting.

Photo of a freshly poured craft beer on a picnic table

In the US, beverage distribution differs from foodstuff distribution in one rather big, corporate way. Transnational food supply corporations, by and large, nationally distribute food. Those mega-corporate names often aren’t as familiar as the brands they supply to local grocers or restaurants.

In contrast, beverages are predominantly delivered by independent distributors that warehouse and distribute products for manufacturers over territories usually no larger than a few states. This is especially true for alcoholic beverages. The majority of those trucks are, in fact, from small- to mid-sized, local operations. They distinguish themselves from franchise distributors—those who work for a specific brand—by general or regional business names that don’t incorporate brand references or logos.

Oddly enough, America’s thirst for the best craft brew, no matter where it’s made, actually contributes to the nation’s economic recovery in two ways. Because it is not nationally controlled by a small number of corporate interests, beverage distribution is an area of the economy that fosters and favors the development of American enterprise, creating jobs at the local level in several sectors. This benefit then multiplies nationally as distributors deliver more domestically crafted microbrews and specialty beverages because the delicious cargo is itself produced by a growing number of small- and mid-sized companies all across the country.

The three-tier beverage distribution system (i.e. producer to wholesaler/distributor to retailer) was designed post-Prohibition in the United States. It aims in part to guarantee regional wholesale price parity, and in part to ensure operational transparency across the alcoholic beverage industry regarding sales, taxes, and consumption. That means that even the most hyper-local microbrewery will go through a beverage distributor to get on draft at the local watering hole. Therefore, even though wholesalers and distributors are largely local, abiding by the federally mandated three-tier system guarantees safe beverage distribution to everyone nationwide.


Craft Beers for Celebrating Valentine’s Day

Exploring the many craft beers available through a beverage distributor will help ensure a memorable Valentine’s Day celebration. Craft beers can make for a delicious pairing with a special dinner and sweet desserts. Here are some top craft breweries with romantic brews worth trying.

Product photo of Rogue's chocolate stout in a bar setting

Rogue

Rogue’s Chocolate Stout exudes a rich, earthy flavor with prominent notes of oats and hops. The dark ebony color of the Chocolate Stout makes this beer an ideal dessert beverage. Rogue is famous for brewing its beers without any chemicals, preservatives, or additives, and these beverages are part of a hand-made revolution. With just 11 ingredients including chocolate, this American stout beer promises to be part of a memorable evening.

New Holland Brewing Company

New Holland’s barrel-aged stout, Dragon’s Milk Reserve, offers several different varieties to suit virtually every taste. Try the Dragon’s Milk Reserve with oak, raspberry, and lemon or a variety with coconut rum, which is sure to be a big hit. Additionally, an oak option with coffee and chocolate is a creamy mixture of vanilla and roast coffee. Or, ask the local beverage distributor about the Dragon’s Milk Reserve with vanilla and chai spices, as a perfect nightcap paired with a decadent dessert.

Samuel Adams

Samuel Adams offers a distinct Chocolate Bock with an easy-to-drink malty flavor, and, as expected, a strong chocolate flavor paired with hints of caramel and roasted marshmallow. These flavors make it the perfect pairing with a nostalgic s’mores treat by the fire.

Dogfish Head

Romantic Chemistry, brewed by Dogfish Head, is an India Pale Ale with the essence of ginger, mango, and apricots. The ale includes three kinds of hops, which combine delightfully with the tropical fruits. With a fruity and hop-forward aroma, pair this medium-to-light ale with cheese, Mexican entrées, seafood, and more. Try Dogfish Head’s Flesh and Blood IPA for an India Pale Ale with a citrusy aroma and flavor. Deep orange in color, this medium-bodied ale is ideal with both entrées and desserts.

With a wide array of craft beers available through a beverage distributor, you can create an unforgettable Valentine’s Day with distinctive food, drink, and company.


4 Surprising Facts About Kombucha

Kombucha has taken the health industry by storm, swiftly becoming the preferred drink of yoga-enthusiasts and businessmen alike. The lightly fizzy drink is the perfect substitute for sugary sodas. While the drink is becoming more common, there are still a few surprising facts lurking behind those colorful labels.

Jar of kombucha with SCOBY

Kombucha Is a Living Drink

Kombucha is a fermented mushroom and tea-based drink, full of living cultures. The industry refers to the culture as SCOBY or the Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast. The drink ferments for about one month before being packaged and shipped to stores. After the kombucha finishes fermenting, the mushroom can either be eaten or recycled into another batch of kombucha.

Kombucha Is Related to Beer

Both beer and kombucha are fermented drinks and are thus both available from many alcohol distributors. Both contain alcohol as a byproduct of the fermentation process. Though beer has a wide range of alcohol contents, depending on the brewery and the style of beer, the average is about 4.5 percent alcohol by volume. Most commercially available kombuchas ferment to an ABV of .05 percent. Because of this, the drink can be sold without the restrictions placed on other alcoholic drinks.

Kombucha Makes a Great Mixer

Don’t discount kombucha just because it’s a health drink! The tangy and effervescent beverage is the perfect cocktail mixer. Add it to a margarita for a unique, tart bite. Really, the drink can be used anywhere a sour mixer would come in handy. The possibilities are only limited by a bartender’s imagination. Best of all, an alcohol distributor can get enough kombucha for most bars and restaurants to offer a wide selection.

Kombucha Is Addictive

Many people find the idea of drinking a fermented mushroom tea off-putting, but once they start, it’s not long until they want to buy more. While it’s not as addictive as coffee or tea, many people who drink kombucha find they start to crave it. With a low calorie count and that delightful carbonation, go ahead and indulge!

Offering kombucha is a fantastic way to expand a bar’s menu and increase the number of cocktails a bartender can make. Working with an experienced alcohol distributor makes keeping enough kombucha on hand easy.


Launch Your Craft Brewery With These 4 Tips

Interior Photo Of A Craft Brewery - Columbia DistributingCraft breweries continue to open at a rapid pace, and for a good reason. They hit on a number of modern trends in the industry such as local ingredients, unique drink and food options, and great service. Explore these spot-on tips for how to get a craft brewery running with a successful start.

1) Hit the Ground Running

Craft breweries have exploded in popularity, which is good for the customer but creates a crowded field for owners. This means that there is little time for a transitional period. It’s important to determine what beers will be sold, what foods will be available, and to hire the qualified staff needed to get things running right away. Consider a soft opening for friends and family before the doors become open to the public to ensure everything is in place.

2) Personalize Appearances

Many customers choose to go to craft breweries primarily because of the local, inviting atmosphere. This environment includes the building type, the seating area, and even the outfits of the waiters or bartenders. A small stone pub can get away with muted lighting and crowded pool tables, while a brewery on the outskirts of town next to a natural setting should capitalize on the natural light and offer amenities like open patios. Make sure that the bar’s appearance fits with its location, and highlights what the spot has to offer that makes it unique.

3) An Educated Staff

It’s important to know that some customers will be craft beer experts, while others will have very little knowledge about the field. The staff needs to be able to walk all customer types through their decision and help them find a beer within their taste range. In some cases, experts may want the exact details on each beer, and the staff has to be prepared to give a comprehensive and articulate description of the selection. This also applies to food pairings, describing the brewing process, and making it an outstanding experience with a connection to the community.

4) Market Smart

The market only has so much room for craft breweries. Each new one has to find a niche in the market and balance it with the current demand in their city. They then have to be able to pivot in the marketplace by bringing in new specials to keep the market growing and to build a loyal customer base. It’s important to play into what your clientele likes. Distribution patterns need to be established right away and details as small as beer names need to be unique and make a splash.

With our broad range of brands and beverage types, Columbia Distributing has been helping businesses succeed for years. Contact us today to find out how we can help your local businesses thrive.


Keep Your Line Long At the Next Beer Fest

Photo Of Beer Being Served At A Beer Festival  -Columbia DistributingBoth craft beer distributors and beer festivals are on the rise as the appreciation of good beer spreads. However, it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle of these large-scale events. Here are tried-and-true steps to stand out and attract customers.

Don’t Use Tickets

Tickets can slow down festival operations and frustrate customers. Tickets frequently get lost and restrict how much people are willing to try, which may prevent guests from spending their precious tickets on a particular beer or trying a more adventurous flavor. Selecting festivals that follow a one-time fee to enter creates a more positive and relaxed fest vibe for both staff and festival attendees.

Sample a Big Variety

Particularly for breweries expanding to a new region, festival customers may be trying out a brand for the first time and need a lot of guidance for their sample. Others will be stopping by to grab a taste of an old favorite, or to taste the newest product from a company they respect. In any situation, craft beer distributors need to aggressively advertise their selection and share unique talking points to stand out in the crowd.

Bring Engaging Staff

Craft beer distributors should send their highest-quality, tenured staff to represent them at a festival. Customers will want to know the history of the company, ingredients in the beer, and suggestions based on a wide variety of tastes. A confident and well-trained employee can also keep people entertained in long lines and encourage social media interactions to make a lasting impression.

Provide Water & Goodies

Water is a must to stay hydrated throughout the day, and every customer will be forever grateful to the vendors that provide it. It also cleans out their glass between samples and stops residue from building up. Other freebies like stickers and buttons will help make a brewery’s brand stand out among the other booths.

There’s no shortage of popular beer festivals happening, especially across the West Coast. With these tips in mind, strategic breweries can gain exposure in new markets and ensure a happy crowd at the next fest.

Photo Credit: Hans Splinter


4 Unexpected Ciders Packing a Tasty Punch

Photo Of A Bottle Of Angry Orchard Cider - Columbia DistributingBefore cracking open the usual beer, it’s time to take a look at another option that can often be forgotten. Head to a local beer and cider distributor to learn about the rich history of hard ciders and cast a shadow on the myths associated with this historic beverage. Many may consider it a sparkling apple drink for friends who can’t stomach the heaviness of beer, but this isn’t the case. There are a variety of drier hard ciders that are not only delicious but also deliver a great punch.

Bad Apple, 2 Towns

For those who think cider lacks ABV, they haven’t tried 2 Towns Bad Apple. An imperial hard cider packing a 10.5% ABV, this cider is fermented with Oregon local meadowfoam honey and is fermented in White Oak barrels. The White Oak gives it notes of wood that flow through the familiar taste of apple. Due to its bold flavor, this pairs well with creamy sauces or risotto.

The Muse, Angry Orchard

By aging this cider in French oak barrels, it reaches new levels of crispness and can please any palate. Angry Orchard now boasts a new extension in the Hudson Valley for its famous cider. Distributor aficionados and producers alike can agree that this brings a new flavor to the well-known brand. With an ABV of 7.7%, it’s a great option for those looking for a gluten-free alcoholic beverage.

Fruit Salad Cider, Rogue

Taking a spin on the classic cider, the Fruit Salad Cider shines a deep purple hue. While the ingredients still contain apple, drinkers are more likely to taste bright berry flavor from the plums, Marionberries, and cherries. This is considered a drier cider with a hint of sweetener giving it its tang. Additionally, the cider distributor, Rogue, doesn’t use any additives, chemicals, or preservatives when fermenting. Holding an ABV of 6.4%, it pairs well with fruit or a summer salad to accentuate its flavors.

Hop’n Mad Apple, Angry Orchard

This cider takes on the trait of many craft beers by using hops. The Strisselspalt hops are added to the cider post fermentation in a process called “dry hopping.” This allows for a hoppy taste without a bitter finish. Cider distributor Angry Orchard is known for its use of local Oregon apples such as Granny Smith, Gala, and Pink Lady. Hop’n Mad Apple has a 5% ABV and pairs well with pub food such as burgers, fries, or jalapeño poppers.

Before heading to another brewery, be sure to stop by a cider distributor to learn more about many unknown and surprising new flavors in the field of cider. Cheers!

Photo Credit: John Hritz


Six Drinks to Ring in the New Year

Photo Of New Year's Eve Drinks - Columbia DistributingA glass of champagne is tradition, but everyone needs something to sip on leading up to that special moment. Get the party started with these drinks from a local beverage distributor that are sure to be the next party favorite when the ball drops.

2 Towns Cider Ginja Ninja

This is a great option for starting off the night with a crisp, easy-to-drink cider. The strong ginger flavor compliments the apple undertones and leaves the palate feeling refreshed. Plus, 2 Towns sources all of their apples from the Northwest for a truly local flavor.

Fremont Brewing Barrel Aged Abominable Winter Ale

This barrel-aged winter ale is nice for those scotch drinkers who want a beer to sip on. The spicy aroma is undercut by a roasted chocolate flavor along with notes of vanilla and caramel. This is a good drink to savor, although the high alcohol content will still produce a buzz.

Pike Brewing Company Octopus Ink Black IPA

A celebration of citrus and pine hops with a dark roasted malt character, this brew packs a complex flavor combination. A little bit sweet, a little bit bitter, it’s the perfect beer to sit back and reflect on the year before the ball drops and confetti flies.

Unibroue La Fin de Monde

No better way to ring in the new year than with a beer that translates to “the end of the world” in French. On a less dark note, this beer will pair perfectly with that post-midnight snack later in the night. It’s a medium body beer with a refreshing hint of orange. This beer keeps a cult following, so order it early from the local beverage distributor before the year ends.

Backwoods Brewing Company Pecan Pie Porter

Finish the night off with a sweet treat from this festive porter. Notes of caramel and chocolate are balanced with a light roasted pecan finish. A truly seasonal brew that’s perfect for a toast to “Auld Lang Syne.”

Be sure to load up on a wide variety of beverages before the holidays, as these are sure to go fast. If hosting a party, be sure to reach out to a local beverage distributor to get the order in!


Hard Cider: An American History

Hard cider was a staple in the early American diet, but by 1840 it began to disappear from the culture altogether. However, as the local and craft beer industry has exploded, hard cider has burst back onto the scene with more producers bringing it back to American taste buds.

apples for cider

Initial Popularity

By the 1600s, hard cider had been popular in England for generations. Water in England was often contaminated, making hard cider a primary source of hydration for many people. It should come as no surprise that the first English settlers in North America would be familiar with cider production and eager to establish cider-pressing operations in the New World. In fact, historic folklore suggests that when a large timber on the Mayflower cracked during a strong ocean storm, the pilgrims propped it up with the large screw from their cider press.

Early settlers brought both young apple saplings and seeds to New England, and orchards were quickly established. Some orchard towns were producing 3,000 barrels of hard cider a year. Hard cider became so ubiquitous that even children consumed it with breakfast. Candidates for political office, including George Washington, used hard cider to motivate voters.

Declining Consumption and Comeback

Hard cider remained popular for several hundred years, but beginning in 1840, Americans began drinking less of it. Production declined so much over the next decades that by the time prohibition ended, hard cider had all but disappeared from American culture. Hard cider’s demise was the result of several factors, including the temperance movement. A large-scale temperance movement began in the U.S. in the 1820s and the social pressure it exerted influenced even casual hard cider users to purge it from their lives. After prohibition ended, the beer and soft drink industries took off, keeping hard cider from regaining a foothold in a country that had once prided itself on having the best cider on earth.

The craft brewery movement of recent years is responsible for returning the crisp, locally sourced beverage Americans have loved for centuries to the forefront of alcoholic beverage trends today. Try one of the many new and evolving varieties today!


Stay Warm This Winter With These 4 Tasty Drinks

During these cold winter months, there are many ways to stay cozy. Sitting by a fire, snuggling under a blanket, or enjoying a hot alcoholic beverage are fun ways to add to the holiday warmth. These four drinks can be made as listed or used as inspiration for your next holiday party or cold winter evening.

mulling spices

Mulled Ale

A spin on mulled wine, this warm beverage allows for innovation as many beer options can be used. The basic recipe calls for the beer of your choice, honey, nutmeg, cinnamon, and clove. Start by warming up your favorite beer on a stovetop, and bring it just below a boiling point. Next mix in the honey and spices to taste. For those who are more practiced in mixology, stir together an egg and sugar and add it to the mulled ale for a more traditional take on this warm drink.

Hard Apple Cider & Rum

This beverage is a fall tradition that mixes comforting and familiar tastes. Hard apple cider and rum represent the perfect balance of an alcoholic bite with a mild sweetener. Top these drinks off with a cinnamon stick for aesthetics and added flavor. For those wanting to add a twist to this classic winter beverage, try different flavors of hard cider like honey or pear.

Crabapple Lambswool

This warm beer beverage takes a bit of cooking, but the end result is well worth the time in the kitchen. This drink calls for your favorite brand of porter, a bit of sherry, a tablespoon of brown sugar, a dash of cinnamon, and a baked apple. Bake the apple in an oven at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. After the apple is cooked, quickly scrape out the fruit from its skin and add the pulp to your mixture of beer, sherry, and spices. The heat of the apple should bring your drink to a nice warm temperature.

Peppery Ginger Cider

For those who love a bit of a bite in their alcoholic libations, this drink combines hard apple cider with bourbon. For the ginger taste either use ginger flavored hard cider, or use original hard cider but add in a bit of ginger liqueur along with a few splashes of bourbon. Stir these together and bring them just below the boiling point on a stovetop. Next mix in lemon juice to taste for a citrus pop. Lastly, sprinkle in a bit of cracked black pepper or coat the rim of the glass before serving.

Columbia Distributing offers many beverages to help you stay warm, have fun, and explore new drinks this winter.