17th Star Distributing was recently launched by Greg May and Pat Lombardi. May, an attorney and former Buffalo Wild Wings franchise owner, met Lombardi, a former wine distributor product manager for craft beer, just before selling the franchises, and decided to partner up on the startup.
“When I met Pat, I told him his idea [to start a distribution company dedicated exclusively to craft beer] was crazy,” said May. “That’s the same thing people told me when I left the practice of law to start a BWW franchise. I’ve never been one to listen to the nay-sayers if I believe in something, and over time I came to believe that Pat’s idea wasn’t crazy at all.”
17th Star is distributing state-wide, with a focus on craft beer brands.
“This dearth of distribution options has resulted in a quandary of sorts for the up-and-coming craft brewer,” said May. “They are left to self-distribute or go with a giant distributor who is beholden to sell their major brands. There are only a handful of distributors to choose from and most of them already have established brands that they need to sell. A small, up-and-coming brewery can find themselves way down the list on both the roster and the minds of the distributor’s sales people.”
Since launching, 17th Star has brought three new breweries into Columbus:
Millersburg Brewing Co. (Ohio)
• Lot 21: Blonde Ale: 5.50% ABV / 27 IBU’S
• Killbuck Creek: Kolsch / 5.50% ABV / 22 IBU’S
• Knight: Vienna Lager / 5.50% ABV / 22 IBU’S
• Panther Hollow: Porter / 6.25% ABV / 38 IBU’S
• French Ridge: IPA / 7.50% ABV / 70 IBU’S
• Fort Fizzle Chocolate Raspberry Ale: 6.5% ABV / 23 IBU’s (limited)
Ohio Brewing Co. (Ohio)
• Double Irish Red: Irish Red Ale / 6.9% ABV / 25 IBU’s
Cismontane Brewing Co. (California)
• Holy Jim Falls: Blonde Ale / 4.5% ABV / 45 IBU
• The Citizen: California Common / 6% ABV / 45 IBU
• Coulter IPA: 7.2% ABV / 65 IBU
• Black’s Dawn: Stout / 8% ABV / 50 IBU’s
• Dos Cone Es (Oaked): Imperial IPA / 11.5% ABV / 135 IBU’s (limited)
• Marea Roja: Flemish Red Ale / 4.4% / 12 IBU’s (limited)
• Mesa: Pilsner/Reisling blend / 6.2% ABV (limited)
• Schwarzop: American black lager / 6% ABV / 63 IBU’s (limited)
Currently you can find these beers at Crafted Drafts, House Beer, Local Cantina, Local Bar Short North, Arch City Tavern, Grain + Grape and Savor Growl and about a dozen other bars and retailers in Columbus.
In the near future, 17th Star will bring White Birch and The Abbey to Ohio. May says agreements are in the works for one of Columbus’ craft breweries, as well as a major national importer.