Iowa City brewer sees benefits from five-year cycling contract
Fresh off RAGBRAI, Big Grove Brewery began fielding messages from beer distributors in Oregon, Colorado, Washington and elsewhere who believed their customers would embrace the product.
Thousands of people from around Iowa and the country had just been exposed for the first time to a handful of Big Grove’s brews during RAGBRAI. Big Grove signed a five-year agreement as the main beer sponsor of the statewide bicycle ride at the end of each July, meaning its beers were in virtually every official beer garden and many local bars and gas stations along the route.
But for now, Big Grove is saying no to anywhere not in Iowa.
“We are taking the philosophy of going deeper rather than wider,” explained Matt Swift, co-founder of Big Grove. “As far as our distribution goes, we want to make sure Iowa is completely saturated with beer before we take a leap to go to another state.”
Earlier this year, Big Grove — which routinely packs its Solon and Iowa City locations — attempted to raise its profile and grow its brand by aligning with one of the state’s signature tourism draws.
This comes at a key time when competition is increasing.
Microbreweries are opening in even the smallest of Iowa cities. Iowa has 114 native breweries and brewpubs or four breweries per 100,000 people aged 21 and older, according to the Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division and the Brewers Association.