Obligations of beer wholesalers
The following article was posted on May 15,, 2014. It has been reviewed and updated as necessary by the ProBrewer editorial staff.
The relationship between a brewer and wholesaler is a very complex and regulated one. State alcohol regulatory agencies mandate certain responsibilities of both the wholesaler and brewer such as payment terms, incentives, price posting, contracts, to name just a few. Every state has a different set of regulations. It is extremely important that you familiarize yourself with the rules and regulations pertaining to the brewery and wholesaler relationship before doing business in that state. Many states also have franchise laws that define very specifically the parameters for terminating a wholesaler. Even in non-franchise states, a brewer can not terminate a wholesaler without cause unless they are willing to compensate the wholesaler for relinquishing the brand.
Generally, it is safe to consider your wholesaler as a warehousing and delivery service, with perhaps some brand maintenance (merchandising, stock rotation, POS placement, etc.) provided at the retail level. But distributors are not generally sales mechanisms and are not responsible for the marketing of your products. These functions are incumbent on the brewer to provide.