Firestone Walker partners with Duvel Moortgat USA
Named GABF's 2015 "Brewer of the Year," Firestone Walker recently announced its partnership with Duvel Moortgat USA, a multinational that's surprisingly well-regarded in craft circles for two reasons: Ommegang and Boulevard. The Belgian conglomerate owns both breweries outright (Market Watch reported it paid around $100-120 million for the Kansas City brewery in 2012, and has owned the Cooperstown outfit since 2003) but has remained totally aloof from its brewing, marketing, and labeling efforts.
Die-hard fans of Firestone Walker's award-winning Union Jack IPA are hopeful that this partnership (the terms of which were not disclosed, as both are private companies) will feature a similar dynamic.
Dogfish Head's 15% sale to a private equity firm probably won't change anything for anyone. At least not right away. In his statement, Calagione claimed LNK has accepted that the move isn't a step towards an IPO, and that he will always be able to "choose smart growth over fast growth." Gatza agrees. "In this case, Sam's not giving up control of the company, so I [don't] think it will have a broad impact on the industry."
Maybe so -- hopefully so, if you're a Dogfish Head fan. But taken together with the recent flurry of acquisitions noted above, the news represents a fundamental market truth that we've been calling for a while: Craft beer is growing up.
With each new handshake -- be it with a macro, or another craft brewer, or private investors -- the industry's oft-mythologized camaraderie and independence becomes more of a myth. Craft beer is a business, man, and it's starting to act like one.
So is the civil war coming to craft beer? “It does seem like battle lines are being drawn, even more so than a few months ago," speculated Steinman. "Whether it’s an all out war..." He scoffed doubtfully. "Eh, not yet.”
Give it a few more months.
Dave Infante is a senior writer for Thrillist. He won't say he told you so, but... he told you so. Follow @dinfontay on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.