Missoula Current

The National Beer Wholesalers Association on Tuesday named Kettlehouse Brewing Co. as one of the nation's best managed breweries while awarding the Missoula business with its second annual Brewer Partner Sales Execution Award.

Kettlehouse received the recognition during the 79th annual NBWA convention held at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Chicago.

The Missoula brewery was founded in 1995 by Tim O’Leary and Suzy Rizza. Last year, the company produced 15,000 barrels of beer, making it one of Montana's largest producers.

“He started small and knows what it takes to make all the parts work in the beer business,” said Dave Irvin of Eagle Beverage.

Kettlehouse opted to sell its beer in 16-ounce cans over the smaller 12-ounce containers, believing they were better suited for introducing new customers to the brand at a greater number of outlets.

The effort has resulted in robust growth that has tested the company's ability to keep up with demand. As a result, Kettlehouse is currently building a new production facility in Bonner that will enable it to meet the demands of its distributors.

“Our job is to make theirs easier because we know how hard the logistics are for getting our product to market,” said O'Leary. “We know that in this point-and-click world we now live in, relationships still sell beer. Our distributors have spent decades building relationships, and we don't want to screw that up.”

Allagash Brewing Co. of Portland, Maine, was honored as the overall Brewer Partner of the Year while Port City Brewing Co. in Alexandria, Virginia, was presented with the Brewer Partner Marketing Innovation Award.

Craig Purser, NBWA president and CEO, said the awards recognize brewers who do the best job in the marketplace while also producing great beer. The awards also acknowledge their partnerships with the distributors who bring their beers to market.

“Kettlehouse is one of the more than 4,000 breweries that are generating such excitement for beer around this country, and providing the American consumer with unprecedented choice and quality,” said Purser.