Another regional brewery, which began as an alternative to mass-produced, corporate-owned beer, has now fully joined the ranks of mega-makers.
On Monday, Portland-based owner of Redhook Brewing – the iconic Seattle Beer Producer who helped ferment the craft movement nearly 40 years ago – agreed to buy it from Anheuser-Busch InBev, a global beer hog known as mass-produced brands like Budweiser.
Under the deal, the Netherlands-based Anheuser-Busch InBev, or AB-InBev, will pay about $ 220 million for shares it no longer held in the Craft Brew Alliance formed in 2008 when Redhook acquired plum with Widmer Brothers Brewing of Portland.
The $ 1
Redbook was founded in 1981 at an old transfer shop by Ballard by Gordon Bowker and Paul Shipman for the purpose of "Brewing Better Beer in Seattle" ing to the Red Hook Brewery website. The oil, which was first sold to Jake O'Shaughnessy in Queen Anne in 1982, was simultaneously celebrated and mocked for banana-like sweetness.
But it sold. As the American Craft Movement picks up speed (in 1982, the first ever Great American Beer Festival in Boulder, Colorado, attracted only 20 breweries and 35 beers) Redhook saw steady growth and a series of ever-expanding facilities and tasting rooms , most recently, the Brewlab Redhook at the Capitol Hill Pike Motorworks building.
But as Seattle writer and beer lover Eric Scigliano points out in these pages, Redhook's growth has brought tension to his craft.
In 1994, the brewery sold a quarter of it to the then Anheuser-Busch in order to gain widespread distribution.
According to Scigliano, Shipman later came to dismiss the sale: "I did not understand the implications for the brand or the relationship with consumers and distributors," he says.
The sale also has implications for the brewery's home image. According to the Brewers Association , an independent brewer's trade group, the term "craft" cannot be applied to a brewery in which the industrial brewery has a stake of 25 percent or more.
But Redhook's nascent corporate identity will only increase
Redhook merged with Widmer, another AB's affiliate and the combination continued to acquire Kona Brewing in 2010. In 2017, Craft Brew closed the Woodinville brewery, where Redhook has operated since 1994, and relocated to Widmer & # 39; s much larger facility in Portland. ( Woodinville's website was sold at the end of 2017.)
Monday's sale of AB-InBev was not a surprise. In 2016, AB-InBev received a sophisticated option to buy the remainder from Craft Brew at a later date. In the years since, both companies have had incentives to merge as beer sales have declined in competition with alternatives such as White Claw.
The fortunes of the Craft Brew Alliance were particularly offset: since July, its stock price has fallen more than 50 percent and was $ 7.33 at the close of the Monday before the merger was announced – a sweet deal for AB-InBev, by all accounts .
Whether beer drinks consider it sweet is another question.
At Brewlab Redhook On Monday night, employees are refusing a court ruling until they hear more details about the deal.
Ryan Evnig, a freight forwarder at Brewlab's Restaurant, stated that he understood his concerns about the image of Redhook's small batches. On the other hand, he said, earning such a large corporate parent could give Redhook more ability to experiment with new beers.
"It's easier for a larger business with more funding to experiment and settle in places that aren't as well documented or proven to be for sale," Ewing said. Selling "can mean more restraint, but it can also give them more freedom."