Ska Brewing Co. rolls into California with new deal

After installing a high-speed canning line earlier this year, Ska Brewing Co. now has the capacity to expand to Southern California. It will be Ska's first new market in five years. Enlargephoto

Steve Lewis/Durango Herald file photo

After installing a high-speed canning line earlier this year, Ska Brewing Co. now has the capacity to expand to Southern California. It will be Ska's first new market in five years.

California knows how to party, as Tupac once said, and Durango's Ska Brewing Co. wants in.

Ska has entered into an agreement with Stone Brewing, of Escondido, California, to distribute Ska's beers in Southern California beginning June 30.

"We've been considering the Southern California market for years," Ska President Dave Thibodeau said in a news release.

Southern California will be Ska's first new market in five years. A high-speed canning line installed this year enabled Ska to relieve capacity issues that had limited Ska production.

Ska - the largest of Durango's five breweries - already distributes throughout Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri, Texas, Illinois and North Carolina, as well as Sweden.

Ska continues to experience double-digit growth. In 2013, Ska had an 11.6 percent increase in barrels sold.

Ska will face stiff competition in Southern California, home to a well-developed craft beer scene and hometown breweries including Stone and Ballast Point.

Thibodeau said Thursday that when Ska was considering new markets, Southern California "still comes out way ahead."

"Even though there's a lot of great beer out there, there's even more people that enjoy really good beer," he added.

Ska gets more requests from fans in Southern California than anywhere else, Thibodeau said.

Ska has a long-standing relationship with Stone Brewing, which will be distributing Ska's beers through its distribution company, Stone Distributing Co. Ska has distributed Stone's beers in the Durango area since 2003, and Stone CEO Greg Koch visited Durango and Ska in 2009. Stone is known for its in-your-face marketing of beers such as Arrogant Bastard Ale.

It's not clear how many Colorado breweries distribute in Southern California. A spokeswoman for the Brewers Association said the association does not track that data.

Stone Distributing distributes beers from two popular Colorado breweries, Avery Brewing Co. of Boulder and Oskar Blues of Lyons. Stone has inked a distribution deal with Maui Brewing Co. that could enable Ska to expand to Hawaii, Thibodeau said.