Small-production beer now heading to big-box store

Speaking at a beer industry panel this week, Golden Road Brewing founder and President Meg Gill discussed the ambitious brewery's approach to serving the thirsty Los Angeles market and revealed that Costco would be the next retail destination for the increasingly ubiquitous cans of Golden Road beer.

The Brewbound Brew Talks are a touring "educational and networking series" aimed at craft breweries that want to improve the "branding, marketing and distribution" of their beer. The Los Angeles stop of the tour was held Wednesday at Golden Road's semi-private events space and featured a moderated panel discussion followed by a debate-style face-off featuring Golden Road's Meg Gill and The Bruery's founder and Brewmaster Patrick Rue. 

The "debate" segment was framed as a comparison between Golden Road and the Bruery's vastly different business models, and during Gill's "opening statement" she addressed Golden Road's early decision to build a large-scale production brewery that would target major retail chains.

"I saw early on that there was this huge potential in craft beer -- if you [have] a six-pack or 12-pack on the shelf at a supermarket, you need scale to succeed," she said. "So we set forth with a bit of a different model. L.A. county needs a local craft beer producer that you can get everywhere from Bill's Liquor in Atwater, Sunset Beer Co., to Costco 24-packs -- which are going into 51 Southern California Costcos next month."

Golden Road's distribution strategy of targeting major retail chains has been criticized by some who think the young brewery is expanding too quickly, too soon, but the aggressive pursuit of retail shelf space for their beer was baked into the Golden Road business plan from the very beginning. Look for cases of Golden Road's canned offerings in area Costco stores beginning in August.

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