Agents tap new niche: insuring local micro-brewers

From left: Brian Stein, assistant brewer, Curt M. Keck, founder, CEO and brew master, and Chris Becker, co-founder, chief operating officer and head brewer of HiJinx Brewing Co., by their brewing equipment at their November grand opening. Keck said he had a lot to learn about liability and insurance while setting up the company. (Contributed photo)

If you brew it, they will come.

If you brew it, they will come.

The growing craft beer industry and Pennsylvania’s nascent craft distillery industry are becoming accelerated drivers of the state’s economy with a more than $2 billion economic impact each year.

With growing public interest, and eased state regulations, new micro distilleries and breweries are opening in the region regularly.

The rapid growth in that industry has created a new need from the insurance industry for agents and policies that strategically target the specific needs of alcoholic beverage manufacturers. But few agents specialize in brewing and distillery industry-specific insurance.

That is why enterprising agents and companies are scrambling to insure the burgeoning industry.

The significance of the surge in the alcoholic beverage manufacturing industry clearly can be seen at Allentown’s manufacturing incubator, the Bridgeworks, where there is a startup brewery, Hijinx Brewing Co.; a distillery, County Seat Spirits; and a meadery, The Colony Meadery.

It can also be seen throughout the region with brewers such as Saucony Creek Brewing Co. in Kutztown to Manatawny Still Works in Pottstown.

Greater Lehigh Valley area brewers and distillers can name only a handful of insurance agencies that have the products and expertise to provide complete insurance coverage for a business that has liabilities covering many subspecialties.

Two local names that came up often are Kyle Rheiner and Todd Collins.

Kyle Rheiner is a Bethlehem native who has taken on an insurance specialty in craft breweries and distilleries in the past year or so.

Stacy Wescoe
Writer and online editor Stacy Wescoe has her finger on the pulse of the business community in the Greater Lehigh Valley and keeps you up-to-date with technology and trends, plus what coworkers and competitors are talking about around the water cooler — and on social media. She can be reached at stacyw@lvb.com or 610-807-9619, ext. 4104. Follow her on Twitter and on Facebook.

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