The theme: An international brewing conglomerate famous for watery beers that are losing market share buys an American craft brewer. If it’s not a brewing conglomerate, it’s a private equity firm. Big Money rules. And valuations of craft brewers have soared.
It’s a dream come true for founders, early investors, and some employees. It’s American entrepreneurialism. Guts, grit, years of hard work, luck, stick-to-itiveness, Yankee marketing, and a passion to produce the best suddenly turn into mega-dollars.
The response from beer lovers has been something close to revulsion: How could they sell out?
Now it happened to me. I love IPAs (India Pale Ales) for their complex hoppy flavors. They’re perfect when you’re just sitting there, ruminating about the rigged markets. They’re perfect with food. They’re particularly perfect with a good steak.
So today, Lagunitas Brewing Company announced that it too sold out.
The original brewery is in Petaluma, Sonoma County, about 40 miles north of San Francisco. They brew all kinds of beers, but the one that ranks on my list of favorites is their IPA.
And they’ve done an excellent job marketing the IPA. It’s broadly distributed in Bay Area grocery stores, bars, and restaurants. I drank my first Lagunitas IPA a decade ago on a ferry across the Bay. Today, our local Costco even carries it. And Lagunitas has become the sixth largest craft brewer in the US.
Four years of drought in California have been hard on the water-intensive brewing business. So it just opened a second brewery in Chicago, which has plenty of water. Both breweries combined have a capacity of 1.2 million barrels. These folks have done a lot of things right for a long time, beyond brewing beer.
This post was published at Wolf Street by Wolf Richter ‘ September 8, 2015.