Redhook, Widmer agree to merger

Widmer Brothers Brewing and Redhook Ale Brewery will merge, creating a new company to be called the Craft Brewers Alliance.

Logistically it’s a buyout, with Redhook issuing 8 million new shares and paying about $50 million in stock to Widmer Brothers, which is privately held. Anheuser-Busch owns about a third of each company and will continue to own that much of the new corporation. The combined company will continue to be publicly traded on NASDAQ under the symbol HOOK.

Kurt Widmer, who with his brother founded the namesake brewer in 1984, will be chairman of the combined companies, while Redhook founder Paul Shipman will be chairman emeritus.

“I believe that the merger will allow us even greater opportunity to deliver unique and great-tasting beers for our customers,” Widmer said. “The two companies have a common goal — we both strive to brew the best possible beer for our customers.”

Shipman, 54, will effectively retire when the deal closes, receiving a severance package. He co-founded Redhook with Starbucks co-founder Gordon Bowker in 1981.

“I don’t plan to stop working, but I don’t plan to work in the beer business,” Shipman said. “I haven’t figured out what I’m going to do, but I have a penchant for alcoholic beverages.”

Both companies will keep their existing breweries, including Widmer’s breweries &#151 the company recently completed a major expansion &#151 in Portland and Redhook’s in Woodinville and Portsmouth, N.H. They also plan to continue making their existing beers.

Widmer owns a minority stakes in two other breweries, Kona Brewing in Hawaii and Goose Island Beer in Illinois.