This article was written by guest author, Mary Ann Lauricello.
Michael Meade wanted “a top-notch company” to bring new Sullivan’s Maltings Irish Ale to Buffalo. There was no question, he said, that his choice would be Try-It Distributing.
A Buffalo native who is a big booster of this area, Michael is a finance executive in New York City who also has a cottage in County Limerick, Ireland. “I have my ear to the ground in Ireland and wanted to get involved in craft beer brewing that is just now really taking off,” he said. Michael was part of the three-year process, from concept development through funding, that resulted in red Irish ale coming to America from Kilkenny.
Sullivan beer-making roots go back to 1702. Over the years, it was acquired by Smithwick’s, founded in 1710. The brewery was sold to Guinness, who operated the Kilkenny facility until closing it in 2014. When two Smithwick descendants returned to the brewery business last year, they revived the Sullivan’s Brewing Company name for their first product – the red ale.
Michael explained that the ownership group sees “a significant opportunity” in bringing a genuine red ale import from Ireland to the Buffalo market.
Last May, Sullivan’s was launched in Kilkenny City, Ireland, then launched in Dublin. Dubliners first tasted this ale in November. Two weeks later, it was in Western New York, shipped in plastic kegs and ready for taps in eight area bars and restaurants. Michael reports that distribution in Ireland will expand to about 100 sites this year and beyond to Edinburgh, Scotland. By June, Try-It will identify more outlets in Erie and Niagara counties. There is a plan to have the ale available in bottles and cans, possibly by year end.
Sullivan’s proud Irish heritage was on display as sponsors of numerous 2017 St. Patrick’s celebrations throughout the Buffalo area, including annual parades in the Old Neighborhood and on Delaware Avenue.
Matt Kearns, Try-It’s director of on-premise sales, is the company’s liaison to Michael’s group.
“His enthusiasm for our beer is real,” Michael said. “The entire management team is honestly interested in our success.” He noted that he was familiar with Try-It because his aunt and godmother, Ginny Allen, worked at Try-It for many years before she retired. A Canisius High School alumnus, he served on the school’s Board of Trustees with Try-It CEO Paul Vukelic.
“Although we could have started in other craft beer hotspots such as Savannah, Boston or Portland, Oregon, it was important for me to bring this product to Buffalo,” he said, adding: “And I wouldn’t do it with any other company than Try-It.”
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