Another day, another craft brewery transaction. Actually, there were two big beer business moves announced yesterday. Let’s recount some recents: We’ve got Bell’s Brewery selling to Lion, an Australia-based brewing rollup that’s a subsidiary of Kirin. We’ve got Tilray/SweetWater Brewing buying Green Flash, Alpine Beer and a bunch of other stuff. Florida’s Big Storm Brewing acquired Florida’s Darwin Brewing. There’s more, if you’re keeping track. Are you still keeping track?
US Beverage announced yesterday that it has formed a joint venture to acquire Utah’s largest independent craft brewer Uinta Brewing. If US Beverage isn’t on your radar, it is currently the largest independent beer importer in the nation and seventh largest of all U.S. beer importers, according to its website. This is the company’s first step into brand ownership. To the press release!
“Uinta is a strong brand with a state-of-the-art brewery. The team and culture that has been developed over the years is second to none in the industry,” said Justin Fisch, President of US Beverage. “The acquisition of Uinta creates tremendous opportunities and synergies, and we share a robust strategic vision for the future. “
The importer has a 25-year history focused on building a portfolio of craft, import, cider and FMB brands through a national network of distributors — brands like Krušovice, “the only royal Czech beer” — but also Moosehead, Superior and a personal fave Innis & Gunn. Based in Salt Lake City, Uinta is a classic craft beer brand with a 29-year history, producing a wide assortment of solid beer brands (Cutthroat Pale Ale, Detour Double IPA and Lime Pilsner). Details of the transaction weren’t released but “both US Beverage and Uinta have confirmed that Uinta leadership, operations and staff will remain in place.”
Fun fact: I always like to use Uinta as a good example of trade dress (love that compass).
MillerCoors Molson Coors Beverage Co. announced it was discontinuing the Saint Archer brand on its blog. It also noted it was selling Saint Archer’s San Diego-based brewery and taprooms to Kings & Convicts, a craft brewery and indoor golf entertainment venue that originated in Chicago and also owns the legacy brand Ballast Point. From the post by Peter Frost:
As part of the deal, Kings & Convicts will take over Saint Archer’s 100,000-barrel capacity Miramar brewery and adjoining taproom, as well as its 1,200-square-foot taproom in Leucadia, Calif. Kings & Convicts, headquartered in San Diego and Highwood, Ill., plans to retain operations and retail team members at both locations.
From the Kings & Convicts website:
The Kings & Convicts will be conquering the land and sea with two new tasting rooms and a new production facility in San Diego, CA. We [sic] thrilled to bring the K&C portfolio to the west coast! The new Miramar and Leucadia tasting rooms will become the first official Kings & Convicts locations in San Diego. We can’t wait to bring the entire K&C portfolio, along with some additional independent craft breweries to the thirsty San Diegans. The new Miramar brewery will effectively become the K&C west coast operating headquarters, where we will begin brewing the year-round portfolio and specialty releases, small batch beers for Ballast Point Brewing Co., and brand new craft beverage products.
You have to hand it to Kings & Convicts. They continue to stay on our radar but not so much poor Saint Archer. Was this a brand anyone ever got the opportunity to support? MillerCoors bought a controlling share of Saint Archer back in 2015 — the year to buy and sell breweries — and Saint Archer was only founded in 2013 by a mix of cool kids in industries ranging from surfing to film and music to skateboarding. It seemed pretty gimmicky from the start, but let’s recap my two favorite Saint Archer moments:
From Frost’s article:
“The Saint Archer team has built a distinct brand that has a very loyal following in Southern California. Unfortunately, the overall business has struggled to grow despite investing significant resources behind its production and commercialization,” says Paul Verdu, vice president of Tenth & Blake, Molson Coors’ U.S. craft division. “We’ll maintain ownership of the Saint Archer brand as we determine the best long-term plan and remain focused on growing our regional breweries that continue outpacing home-market competitors.”