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Left Hand, Odd 13 craft brew distributor C.R. Goodman sells to Breakthru Beverage

Brands must agree to shift to new Colorado distributor

Home-grown C.R. Goodman, the Aurora-based distributor of Colorado craft beer brands from Left Hand Brewing to Odd 13, said Monday that is being acquired by Breakthru Beverage Group of Colorado, another distributor of local craft beer.

Ken Goodman, C.R. Goodman’s owner, said in a statement that it was just time for a change for the company he started in 2006.

“We chose our suitor carefully and know the Breakthru team will take the same passion and energy we’ve had for our brands to the next level,” Goodman said.

Breakthru, which has been in Colorado for years and distributes brands including Odell and Great Divide, emerged last year when New York’s Charmer Sunbelt Group merged with Chicago’s Wirtz Beverage Group, the nation’s third and sixth largest distributors based on sales. The combined company employs 7,000 people, had $6 billion in annual sales and operated in 16 markets. Breakthru was previously known as Beverage Distributors Company.

In Colorado, C.R. Goodman distributes more than 1 million cases a year with Breakthru at about twice that, according to Breakthru.

The sale, which is expected to close in the next month, still needs some fine tuning. It requires that each of C.R. Goodman’s craft beer brands approve of the transfer, Breakthru spokeswoman Carrie Bach said.

“With beer, it’s tricky. All those brewers have the opportunity to say we don’t like this,” Bach said. “But there’s goodwill between the brewers (and Breakthru). We don’t take them for granted.”

The two companies are among several distributors in Colorado. But the number of companies selling beer into retailers, bars and restaurants has shrunk as operators consolidated, said Steve Findley, executive director of the Colorado Beer Wholesalers Association, which counts about 15 members.

“Sales and acquisitions of beer wholesalers are not uncommon, although, we have seen a slight trend toward consolidation in this tier of the beer industry,” said Findley, who remembers when there were more than 100 distributors in Colorado with several in each town. “We have also seen unparalleled adaptability as beer distributors in Colorado have grown to accommodate the state’s thriving craft beer community. Distributors are taking on more skews and beefing up their marketing departments in order to get the best quality and selection of beer possible to consumers.”

In the press release, C.R. Goodman said it had been looking for a new owner who would keep its staff and expand core brands, which also include Upslope, Stone, Dogfish Head, Firestone Walker, Boulevard, Bristol, Victory and Funkwerks.

Breakthru has steadily added new brands, including some from C.R. Goldman. Boulder-based Avery Brewing Co. switched to Breakthru in 2013 because of its wider market and resources, according to a January 2013 story in BrewBound.com. Last September, Breakthru added Denver Beer Co. Last month, Stem Ciders joined Breakthru.

In July 2015, Breakthru said it would consolidate three Aurora offices and 600 employees into a half-million-square-foot facility in the United Properties’ Enterprise Business Center at Stapleton. The facility is expected to be completed in early 2017, according to Breakthru. C.R. Goodman employs about 75 people.

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