Before some Big Beer company snatches it up, you could be the proud owner or partner in DuClaw Brewing Co. Equity Partners HG has been retained by DuClaw Brewing to find a partner, investor or buyer for the family-owned, Baltimore-based, craft brewer.
DuClaw Founder Dave Benfield stated: “This has been a huge part of my life for the past 21 years, and we are incredibly proud of the story we have created. It’s time for a new chapter and we are excited to see what options are available to us that will allow DuClaw to continue to grow and provide unique offerings to our loyal, craft beer fans.”
In 1996, Benfield opened DuClaw’s first brewpub in Bel Air while the craft beer scene in Maryland was just getting started. The company has since outgrown the original brewing facility in Bel Air, as well as a second brewery in Abingdon, and in 2014, finally settled in its current location, a 63,000-square-foot facility in Rosedale, just outside Baltimore. With one of the most state-of-the-art brewing systems in the mid-Atlantic region, DuClaw can now produce up to 55,000 barrels annually.
The brewing system was just one of the capital expenditures DuClaw has made over the past couple of years. Benfield also purchased a bottling line, capable of filling 100 bottles per minute and has plans to add a canning line in the near future.
“The addition of a canning line would offer a host of new opportunities, not only for our products, but with other craft brewers that would contract with us,” Benfield said.
In light of newly passed legislation that allows brewers to sell up to 2,000 barrels per year via a public taproom, another potential project on Benfield’s radar would be renovating that existing space in their Rosedale location.
He commented, “I think people would love to see the facility and sample beer fresh from the line, we just need some new capital to update the taproom in order to comply with ingress/egress regulations.”
While the overall beer market remained flat for 2016, sales of craft beers were up 6.2 percent and now account for more than 12.5 percent of the total market share.
Benfield stated, “We have been able to enter more markets in the past three years than the first 18 years combined but growing distribution takes time and money, and I am at a point where I either need to pass the baton to someone else or find a partner to help me take DuClaw to the next level.”
Perhaps the biggest driver of this growth has been the success of “Sweet Baby Jesus,” the popular chocolate peanut butter porter that took home honors at the Great American Beer Festival in 2014.
Despite having over 65 unique beers, Benfield admits, “That is the beer that has opened the most doors for us, but we are consistently impressed with how well a new offering is received.” Benfield credits that to being a trusted brand within an ever-changing market. “Our goals for the business have evolved over the years, but making beer people enjoy will always remain our primary focus. I am thrilled that we will be in a better position to continue doing that after this process is complete. I believe the best days for DuClaw still lie ahead,” added Benfield.