The craft beer world seems more and more to be filled with acquisitions and mergers. From ABInbev’s procurement of such luminaries as Goose Island and Elysian to Miller/Coors’ grab of a minority stake in Athens, Ga. brewer Terrapin Beer Company, craft beer is becoming a bottom line boost for traditional macro breweries. The latest partnership is that of Dutch beer giant Heineken and California’s Lagunitas Brewing Company.
“This venture will create a way for Lagunitas to help Heineken’s global distribution network participate in the growing craft beer category,” Magee said in a press release. “This alliance with the world’s most international brewer represents a profound victory for American craft. It will open doors that had previously been shut and bring the U.S. craft beer vibe to communities all over the world.”
The deal is expected to close in the fourth quarter of this year with Heineken gaining a 50% share of the craft brewery. Lagunitas founder and owner Tony Magee will retain control as CEO of the brewery.
In a prepared statement, Magee said the deal would help Lagunitas build its brand globally; reaching parts of the world that other U.S. craft brands haven’t yet tapped. With global demand for American craft beers reaching new heights, this strategy could help catapult the brand onto the world stage.
In 2014 alone, American craft beer export volume was up by 35.7% for a total of $99.7 million, according to the Brewers Association, the trade group for American independent craft brewers.
In an article on SFGate.com, Magee insists that the merger will not change the character of the traditionally non-traditional company.
“We are what we are,” said Magee in the SFGate article, noting that Lagunitas approached Heineken about the deal, not the other way around. “Achieving scale doesn’t change things unless you allow it to change you.”