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About Us Our History

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Mr. O.A. Bakhaus 

A concoction of barley, hops, and malt has been around for thousands of years. While our company is not nearly as old as beer itself, we do have a fascinating story.
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The Past Eight Decades

During the past eight decades, our name has changed, beers have come and gone, and the business has grown to include 1,500 accounts and counting. One thing remains the same: Our company is synonymous with exceptional service and dedicated employees who go above and beyond the call of duty each and every day.

When the Prohibition ended in 1933, Bennie Robinson Distributing, Inc. was doing business as a produce wholesaler, selling lettuce as well as Hudepohl and Wiedemann beer off the same truck. Wiedemann was the number one beer in Lexington at the time, a trend that continued for 17 years.

Following the death of Mr. Robinson, Mr. O. A. Bakhaus bought Bennie Robinson Distributing, Inc. on March 1, 1948. At the time, the company owned one building and three trucks. The average cost for a truck was $4,000 and the total cost for that year’s advertising was $3,419. Gross sales in 1948 were $117,000 with 979 barrels of beer sold. It’s hard to imagine now that Budweiser was just a small part of the business when Mr. Bakhaus purchased the company.

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1958

A building in Winchester was purchased to house the brands distributed by Ace and Bennie Robinson companies. It became a branch of the Lexington operations which consisted of two men – Rodney Jordan and Millard Whiseman – and a truck.

A few years later in ’64, Bakhaus bought the rights to Pabst. Given that Pabst and Wiedemann could not be distributed by the same company, Bakhaus developed Champion Distributing Co. He also bought Madison Distributing Company from Mouse Agee on January 2, 1976. Based in Richmond, Kentucky with another branch in Winchester, this purchase was pertinent to the expansion of business since beer was sold at different prices in Lexington and Winchester. He renamed it Old South Distributing Company.

The Bakhaus empire then consisted of Champion (delivering Pabst; later in the ‘80’s, Champion also distributed the Coors brands), Ace Distributors (delivering Wiedemann), Bennie Robinson (delivering Budweiser and Hudepohl), and Old South (delivering Budweiser).

At the time, the Anheuser-Busch portfolio included Budweiser, Michelob, Michelob Light, and Busch. Bennie Robinson distributed less than 1 million cases of beer, while Richmond sold over 275,000 cases in a year by 3 employees who used a small building and one 10-bay truck. There were three routes going out of Lexington, one route out of Winchester, and one from Richmond.

Still expanding, a separate building in Winchester was constructed for Old South Distributing in ’79.

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1980's

The 1980’s proved to be a busy decade for the Bakhaus companies. In 1980, the first tractor trailer was purchased. In ’81, Ace Beer shut down its’ operations and Bennie Robinson took over the Wiedemann brand. Budweiser Light was then introduced nationally in ’82 and was brought to the Lexington, Winchester, and Richmond markets the following year. 1983 marked the 50th anniversary of the Budweiser Clydesdale hitch. In ’84 the Budweiser Light brand name was changed to what we now all know and love, Bud Light.

Upon recognizing the growing success of the Budweiser brands, Champion Distributing showed its’ loyalty to Anheuser-Busch and sold the Pabst and Coors brands to Clark Distributing Co. in 1985.

Clark is still distributing these brands today. One year later on October 1st, Bennie Robinson, Inc. moved into its’ new facility on Angliana Avenue in Lexington. This spacious building offered over 100,000 square feet and the fleet increased to twenty trucks to handle sales of 1.6 million cases.

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1990's

Business continued to grow, and on April 4, 1996 the three companies - Bennie Robinson, Inc. in Lexington, and Old South Distributing Company in Richmond and Winchester - were uniformed under the same name: Kentucky Eagle Beer, Inc.

The following year in 1997, our current Owner and President Mrs. Ann Bakhaus McBrayer began her endeavors at Kentucky Eagle Beer, Inc.

1998 attempted to bring some hardship to Kentucky Eagle as Lexington was hit with a blizzard on February 5th that dropped almost 20 inches of snow. The offices were destroyed and the roof over the drive-thru collapsed on the fleet of trucks. By that afternoon, word had spread to fellow distributors throughout the state and many called to offer their assistance. Thanks to them, Kentucky Eagle Beer never missed a beat and the team was calling on accounts the following morning in trucks graciously loaned to the company by friends. Sales, much like the snowfall accumulation that year, were high – up 14%! Luckily, only one van was totaled out of 29 vehicles.

September 25th, 1998 was a monumental day for Kentucky Eagle Beer. The company celebrated the opening of the newly rebuilt and enlarged offices, the Kentucky Eagle Beer 50th anniversary, and the 92nd birthday of Mr. O.A. Bakhaus.

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2000

In 2002, Kentucky Eagle Beer consolidated the Lexington and Winchester branches into one house on Angliana Avenue in Lexington.

By 2004, Kentucky Eagle operated 2 warehouses and covered 16 counties. The company sold 5,500,000 cases of Anheuser-Busch products per year to over 1,000 accounts.

Carrying a strong commitment to excellence and service, Kentucky Eagle Beer has continued to grow and change with the times. In late July 2009, Kentucky Eagle moved into a new environmentally friendly facility that has 190,000 square feet, over 19 acres, and can hold over 8 million cases annually. The new Innovation Drive location is LEED certified; we are the first Anheuser-Busch beverage distributor in the United States to achieve this status. The Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design certification rates the building construction as environmentally sound. 

With the new building and an ever-expanding portfolio of alcoholic and non-alcoholic products, Kentucky Eagle Beer, Inc. changed its’ name to Kentucky Eagle, Inc. The company now boasts of selling over 5,500,000 cases per year, has a delivery footprint of 52 counties, and services over 1,500 accounts and counting.

After 64 years of business, Kentucky Eagle, Inc. is proud of its’ commitment to the continuing success of employees, customers, company, and suppliers.

 

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