Profile of a Beer Distributor
Delivering More Than Just Beer

Beer distributors do a lot more than deliver beer from brewers and importers to the local retailers.  Their role within the three-tier system is much more involved.  Distributors purchase beer from the brewers and store the beer at their facilities until it is needed by the retailer.  They sell beer to retailers such as restaurants, grocery stores, taverns, and convenience stores.  Warehousing and delivery is done locally, so retailer inventory is smaller and the related costs are lower.

Contracts with brewery suppliers mandate they must help build brand recognition through advertising, promotions, and merchandising.  The average beer distributor has annual sales of approximately $11.8 million and employs 36 workers.  Most distributorships are family-owned and operated, often by descendants of its post-Prohibition founder.  Many beer distributors are closely aligned with the brands they sell.

To run a successful beer distributorship, a variety of employees are needed.  From warehouse personnel, salespersons and marketing professionals to drivers, management personnel and logistics people, beer distribution is rapidly developing into a high-tech industry.

Distributors also maintain a temperature controlled warehouse and operate a fleet of about a dozen delivery trucks.  They are responsible for guaranteeing freshness of the product - just one of many important services beer distributors provide to consumers.

Portrait of the Average Beer Distributor*

Annual sales

$11.8 million

Number of employees


Annual direct payroll


Average wage per employee


*Source: National Beer Wholesalers Association