About 80% of the Tank Brewing Co.’s beer was distributed to restaurants and bars at the start of 2020. But when Covid-19 arrived in South Florida, that business dried up.
Founder Carlos Padron had to quickly find a way to offset that lost revenue, especially after his own 4,000-square-foot taproom in Miami was forced to close in March of last year, too.
“Demand for kegs was gone,” he said. “No restaurants and bars were buying; there was hardly anybody to sell to.”
Padron needed to pivot, and saw grocery distribution as essential to keeping his five-year-old business afloat.
Now, Tank Brewing Co. beer can be found in major chains including 70 Publix Super Market stores, more than 20 Winn-Dixie locations and 10 Sedano’s supermarkets across Florida. The brewery’s beer is also available in Millam’s Market, Whole Foods, Mendez Fuel and Total Wine.
Tank Brewing Co.’s grocery and liquor store distribution grew from making up just 20% of its business to nearly all of its distribution for much of last year.
Those sales were enough to carry the company through as grocery stores posted sky-high sales. Lakeland-based Publix, for example, reported a 17.7% increase in sales in 2020 compared to the prior year.
However, demand for Tank Brewing Co. craft beer waned even after bars and restaurants reopened. Most establishments, he said, opted to serve only the most popular, national beer brands and not refill kegs for craft beer when they reopened over the summer. Many restaurateurs at the time didn’t restock out of fear that restaurant service may be barred again, Padron says.
So in addition to expanding to regional grocery chains, the Tank Brewing Co. went international this past year.
Tank Brewing Co. made inroads in the Dominican Republic, Panama, Chile and Puerto Rico since the start of the pandemic. The brewery recently promoted former director of sales Victor Castro to be VP of sales in the Caribbean to grow the brewery’s international name recognition further in 2021.
Its international distribution is only for canned beer, Padron said, and does not include kegs for restaurants and bars abroad.
While retail distribution helped carry the Tank Brewing Co. through the worst of the pandemic, Padron added that he’d like to increase sales with bars and restaurants again to about half of the brewery’s sales.
The Tank Brewing Co. also plans to add its own on-site kitchen by the end of April, Padron said. The brewery currently has a food truck, and the upcoming 1,000-square-foot kitchen will allow the brewery to stir up even more sales.
Source: South Florida Business Journal