Dogfish Head sells stake to private equity firm

Dogfish Head Craft Brewery announced today it has sold a 15 percent stake in the company to a New York-based private equity firm, LNK Partners.

In announcing the deal, Dogfish Head co-founder Sam Calagione said his company plans to eventually repurchase LNK’s share. The cash infusion now will allow Dogfish Head to continue growing. The company recently completed a $50 million expansion, financed primarily through bank debt.

“We lived through the first great shakeout of the craft era in the late 90s as brewers, beer geeks and mom-and-pop entrepreneurs,” Calagione told Brewbound. “Now as we go into the next most highly competitive moment in our industry, I see that it is not just home brewers and mom-and-pop entrepreneurs navigating this moment next to us.”

LNK will have one of five voting seats on the Dogfish Head board.


Green Flash brewmaster leaves to start on brewery

Chuck Silva his resigned his post as brewmaster and vice president of brewing operations at Green Flash Brewing Co.

Here are the details from a press release:

Effective immediately, (Silva) will be funneling his energies into the establishment of his very own craft brewing operation at a yet-to-be-determined location in California’s San Luis Obispo County.

“Words cannot express my deep level of appreciation for the opportunities that Green Flash Founders Mike and Lisa Hinkley have provided me over the past decade-plus,” says Silva. “Together, we pooled our shared passion and determination to accomplish great things and introduce drinkers across the country to innovative, largely hop-forward beers that I was proud to help craft along with Green Flash’s passionate brewing staff. I will miss them all, but feel now is the time to focus on this next chapter.”

Adding to Silva’s enthusiasm is the chance to build his brewing company in the region where he grew up. The brewmaster hails from the Central Coast, and many of his longtime friends and family still live there. Silva is particularly excited about brewing up a business working side-by-side with the newest family member, wife Mary Jo.

When Silva joined Green Flash in 2004, the employee base totaled less than a dozen and the business was struggling to find an identity and market share in San Diego’s rapidly growing brewing industry. Thanks in large part to poignant beers tackling a wide range of styles—from hoppy beers to Belgian-inspired ales to barrel-aged sours and stouts, and more—Green Flash evolved into one of the nation’s premier brewing operations, currently employing more than 200 with nationwide and international distribution, and plans to open a second full-scale brewery in Virginia Beach, Va. in 2016.

“It’s been so fulfilling to play such a major role in the accomplishment of so many goals at Green Flash. Together, we’ve come further and grown larger than I could have ever foreseen. I couldn’t have done it alone and I thank every member of the craft community that helped me along the way,” says Silva. “But it’s always been my dream and personal long-term goal to brew on my own terms. Now is the time to go for it and I’m looking forward to working on smaller projects.”

No word on what the brewery will be called or when it open.


Great American Beer Festival winners announced

Two hundred and forty-seven judges from 15 countries evaluated a mind-boggling 6,647 beers during the course of three days of judging at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver.

A few other numbers illustrate just how big the event has grown:

– 750 breweries were represented in the festival hall
– 3,800 beers served at the festival
– 60,000 attendees for four sessions
– 3,400 volunteers (festival and competition combined)
– 1,552 breweries in the competition from 50 states plus Washington, D.C.

The most-entered categories were dominated by hop-forward beers. There were: American-Style India Pale Ale (336 entries), Imperial India Pale Ale (208 entries), Wood- and Barrel-Aged Strong Beer (179 entries), Session India Pale Ale (161 entries), American-Style Pale Ale (160 entries).

Seven breweries won Brewery of the Year awards:
– Very Small Brewing Company – Rip Current Brewery (San Marcos, Calif.)
– Small Brewing Company – Port City Brewing Co. (Alexandria, Va.)
– Mid-Size Brewing Company – Firestone Walker Brewing Co. (Paso Robles, Calif.)
– Large Brewing Company – Pabst Brewing Co. (Los Angeles, Calif.)
– Small Brewpub – Melvin Brewing (Jackson, Wyo.)
– Mid-Size Brewpub – TAPS Fish House & Brewery (Corona, Calif.)
– Large Brewpub – Titletown Brewing Co. (Green Bay, Wis.)

Download a complete list of the winners here.


A-B buys Golden Road Brewing

Anheuser-Busch announced today it is acquiring Golden Road Brewing, the largest craft brewery in Los Angeles County.

It is the fourth smaller brewery A-B has purchased since it first bought Goose Island Beer Co. In 2014 it acquired Blue Point Brewing, 10 Barrel Brewing and Elysian Brewing. In addition,s last month Goose Island subsidiary bought a majority stake in Michigan-based Virtue Cider.

The deal comes on the heals of news of other acquisitions. Most recently, MillerCoors acquired a majority stake in San Diego’s St. Archer Brewing Co. Not long before, Lagunitas Brewing announced a partnership with Heineken that traded 50% of the company for an undisclosed sum and unequaled access to the international marketplace.

Founded in 2011, Golden Road produced 30,000 barrels last year.

Golden Road plans to remain focused on its current distribution in California, Arizona and Las Vegas, but could expand to other states under A-B’s ownership. “As demand grows, hopefully we’ll look at what other states and countries look like,” company co-founder and president Meg Gill told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

St. Louis-based A-B, the U.S. subsidiary of Anheuser-Busch InBev, said the sale includes Golden Road’s brewery, a pub in Los Angeles and a tasting room. Golden Road is adding a new tasting room this year, and a second production brewery and pub in Anaheim in late 2016.

Andy Goeler, A-B’s CEO of craft division, said Golden Road has created a passionate beer culture in its four years in operation. A-B continues to evaluate other craft brewery acquisition opportunities, he said.

“In addition to Budweiser and Bud Light, there’s a lot of demand for local beers and varieties of styles within those local beers,” said Andy Goeler, A-B’s CEO of craft division. “We’re always looking for other phenomenal companies to partner with to add to the portfolio.”

More from a press release; “A press release from A-B included As the largest craft brewery in Los Angeles County, Golden Road expects to sell approximately 45,000 barrels of beer in 2015 and can be found in more than 4,000 retail locations. With a brewery focused on draft and can production, a pub in Los Angeles and a new tasting room downtown. Additionally a new tasting room, opening in 2015, second production brewery and pub in Anaheim will be operational by the forth quarter of 2016. Its core brands – Point the Way IPA, Wolf Among Weeds IPA, Golden Road Hefeweizen and 329 Days of Sun Lager – represent 95 percent of volume. Along with the core beers, Golden Road brewers are constantly experimenting with the freshest ingredients through a collection of rotating, seasonal and limited-edition brews, most notably the Custom IPA Series, a line-up of diverse, hop-forward IPAs.”

In addition, A-B released this video.


A-B InBev makes offer to buy SABMiller

Anheuser-Busch InBev revealed today it has made an offer to SABMiller to unite the world’s largest beer makers. The combined company would have a market capitalization of some $275 billion and be by far the largest brewer in the world, controlling about one third of the world market.

Any such deal would be carefully scrutinized by regulators and require that the companies involved sell off parts of their current operations.

“AB InBev’s intention is to work with SABMiller’s Board toward a recommended transaction,” AB InBev said in a statement. “There can be no certainty that this approach will result in an offer or agreement, or as to the terms of any such agreement.”

SABMiller is London based, and under U.K. takeover rules, AB InBev has until 5 p.m. on Oct. 14 to make an offer for SABMiller or walk away. SABMiller can then extend the negotiation process.

Buying SABMiller would strengthen AB InBev’s position in fast-growing economies in Africa and Asia. SAB Miller employs about 69,000 people in more than 80 countries, including Australia, Zambia, Colombia and the Czech Republic.

AB InBev was created in 2008 when Brazilian-Belgian brewer InBev bought Anheuser Busch. The company has operations in 25 countries and makes more than 200 beers, including Stella Artois and Beck’s.

There are significant antitrust hurdles to the deal, particularly in the United States, where the companies would have about 70 percent of the beer market, and parts of some of the companies likely will have to be sold. There was immediate conjecture about how a deal might affect the overall market in the United States, and the impact on distribution and sales of smaller breweries.

Brewers Association director Paul Gatza offered some thoughts on the BA website:

“In terms of impact on craft, my first thought is that most craft brewers operate in a different sphere—their communities and regions primarily. … Many craft brewers would look at a potential deal of Anheuser Busch-InBev and SABMiller as not relevant to their businesses and will keep on doing what they do—make flavorful and high quality beer, engage beer drinkers and serve the community through jobs, involvement and serving as a place for people to gather and discuss the events of the day.”


MillerCoors acquires San Diego brewery

Tenth and Blake, the craft and import division of MillerCoors, announced today an agreement to acquire a majority interest in Saint Archer Brewing Company. Here’s the rest of the press release:

Founded in San Diego in 2013 by a talented group of entrepreneurs, artists, skateboarders and surfers, Saint Archer brews an award-winning range of ales including Blonde Ale, IPA, White Ale and Pale Ale. Saint Archer expects to sell 35,000 barrels of beer in 2015, up more than 100 percent over 2014, making it one of the fastest-growing breweries in California. Tenth and Blake plans to support its continued growth under the ongoing leadership of Josh Landan, Saint Archer co-founder and president.

“We have always wanted to get great beer into more people’s hands,” said Landan. “We were fortunate that brewers big and small were interested in partnering with us, but Tenth and Blake was the clear choice. Tenth and Blake shares our passion for putting great beer first. Joining Tenth and Blake allows us to keep doing what we love right here in San Diego, but now with more resources to innovate and grow. With Tenth and Blake’s help, we hope to one day be a national brand.”

Saint Archer’s management and their team will continue to brew, package, ship, and sell Saint Archer’s outstanding portfolio of high-quality brands. Saint Archer will be run as a separate business unit of Tenth and Blake.

“We’re really excited about our partnership with Saint Archer,” said Scott Whitley, president and CEO of Tenth and Blake. “Saint Archer is consistent with our strategy of building our high-end portfolio while driving topline growth. Josh and his team represent everything we look for in a partner. Saint Archer brews award-winning ales across a variety of styles that are complementary to our current portfolio—including some outstanding IPAs. We’re excited at the prospect of working together to support the continued success of Saint Archer.”

Saint Archer picked up two gold medals at the 2014 San Diego International Beer Festival and a gold medal at the 2014 Great American Beer Festival.

Saint Archer joins other leading crafts in the Tenth and Blake portfolio, including Blue Moon Brewing Company, Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company, Crispin Cider Company and a minority equity stake in Terrapin Beer Company.

The news comes two days after Heineken bought a 50 percent stake in Lagunitas Brewing.


Heineken buys 50% of Lagunitas

Brewing giant Heineken and Lagunitas Brewing turned the beer world sideways today when they announced that Heineken has acquired a 50 percent shareholding in Lagunitas.

First the press release, and then a bit more from Lagunitas founder Tony Magee:

Heineken N.V. today has announced the acquisition of a 50% shareholding in the Lagunitas Brewing Company, the fifth largest craft brewer in the United States by volume. Lagunitas owns a stable of award-winning brands, including Lagunitas IPA. Lagunitas IPA is the largest India Pale Ale brand in the United States and has become a benchmark for the category. The transaction will provide HEINEKEN with the opportunity to build a strong foothold in the dynamic craft brewing category on a global scale, whilst it provides Lagunitas with a global opportunity to present its beers to new consumers in a category that is showing exciting international growth opportunities.

Founded in California in 1993, Lagunitas is estimated to sell c. 1 million hectolitres of beer in 2015 from its two world-class breweries in Petaluma, California, and Chicago, Illinois. A third brewery is currently under construction in Azusa, California. The brewer has a strong track record of growth, with 2012 – 2014 revenue CAGR at 58%. Its other leading brands include A Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’, Daytime, Pils, Sucks, Hop Stoopid and Maximus. Lagunitas has a nationwide presence in the United States and the brewer has expanded into a number of other markets including the UK, Canada, Sweden and Japan, offering strong potential for continued growth outside the United States.

In the United States, craft beer continues to outperform the overall beer market, and now represents 11% of total volumes. Within the craft segment, IPA is the fastest growing category.

Lagunitas will continue to be led by Tony Magee, its founder and Executive Chairman, alongside the existing management team and the company will continue to operate as an independent entity.

The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions and is expected to complete in the 4th quarter of 2015. Financial terms are not disclosed.

Commenting, Jean-François van Boxmeer, Chairman of the Executive Board & CEO of HEINEKEN said: “We are very excited to partner with Lagunitas. We recognise and respect the tremendous success of Tony and his team in building one of the great U.S. craft beer brands. We look forward to that same team partnering with us to expand Lagunitas globally, so it can reach parts of the world that other craft beer brands have not.”

Tony Magee, founder and Executive Chairman of Lagunitas, added: “This venture will create a way for Lagunitas to let HEINEKEN participate in the growing craft beer category across its global distribution network in places from Tierra Del Fuego and Mongolia to the far-flung Isle of Langerhans. Lagunitas will share in the best quality processes in the world and enjoy access to opportunities that took lifetimes to build. This alliance with the world’s most international brewer represents a profound victory for U.S. craft. It will open doors that had previously been shut and bring the U.S. craft vibe to communities all over the world.”

In his own blog, Magree wrote, “So….. this morning you may have heard the exciting news that we announced a powerful joint venture with Heineken to export the exciting vibe of American craft beer globally. If you did, then you know the reason for my previous ten blog entries. What you might not know is how the thinking came about that brought us to this opportunity or how it is that this new relationship will work. If you’re interested, dear reader, please read on.”

Here are the rest of his thoughts.