(Portland, OR) – Churchkey Can Company CEO, Ryan Sowards, and Co-Founders, Justin Hawkins and Adrian Grenier (the latter of HBO’s Entourage), gave some insights into the company’s fast start at a tech conference this week.
TechCrunch, one of the world’s largest technology news sites, is hosting the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in New York City. Separate from the TechCrunch news business is CrunchFund, a venture capitalism company, largely consisting of former TechCrunch employees. CrunchFund General Partner, MG Siegler, interviewed the Churchkey guys and CrunchFund happens to be an investor in the company.
So, what did they have to say?
Churchkey’s Pilsner is currently distributed in Portland, Oregon and Seattle, Washington. Washington-based distribution partner, Odom Beverage, sold out of their initial allocation in four days, according to Sowards. Sowards recalls a story in which he gave a sales rep a case and the rep took the beer around to five accounts. Sowards was told, “5 for 5. In 27 years of selling beer, this is the easiest sell I’ve ever had.”
Even the Seattle Mariners contacted the company to get the beer stocked at Safeco Field.
Sowards says the company will launch in the San Francisco market on June 5th. After that, the company will open Austin, then Los Angeles, New York, Chicago and Denver. The other markets will be opened late summer and fall.
They are ‘allocating’ beers to their wholesalers (versus wholesalers being able to order as much as they want). Sowards acknowledges that “scarcity drives demand” but says they still want brew enough beer to be able to meet demand.
Hawkins says they will likely work with homebrewers to draw up a recipe for an ale next.
The brand does have its detractors including seasoned beer writer, Stephen Beaumont, and some TechCrunch commenters. They question the need to go back to the older, ‘less advanced’ version of the beer can requiring the churchkey, one that Hawkins says ceased being the industry standard in 1965.