Well, this ought to put a bad taste in some people’s mouths. One of the best and brightest in US microbrew has been sold to Anheuser-Busch (A-B). The world leader in beer will take over the brewing operations, but the two Chicago micropubs will remain held by the brand’s original owners.
A-B purchased a 58% majority share of stock from Goose Island’s original owners and investors for a total of roughly 22.5 Million. Goose Island’s founder, John Hall, will finally reep a major reward for his 23 years in brewing at Chicago’s award-winning brewery.
A-B snatched up the remainder of stock (42%) from the Craft Brewers Alliance (CBA), a collective of Widmer Brothers, Redhook and Kona Brewing. The CBA grabbed the stake back in 2006, when it forged a deal with Goose Island to help it distribute on the West Coast. This deal was the precursor for Goose Island’s immediate sale to A-B.
This deal is one of the biggest in craft beer history. But, it did not happen overnight. CBA is partially owned by A-B, who provides a vast distribution market that most craft brewers dream of entering. In 2006, Goose Island entered a distribution agreement with A-B, which inevitably resulted in CBA grabbing a minority share. Now, 5 years later, A-B is sweeping back in to collect the company that it helped expand exponentially.
In the end, it sounds like this deal was built out of a need for additional capitol to expand. Brewmaster Greg Hall stated that they had to “kill” three of their popular brands last year because they simply could not keep up with demand. A-B has pledged to invest $1.3 Million this year, to expand the brewing operation.
At the end of the day – the Halls just realized the American dream. They started small and built something great. After 23 years of grinding, they are finally able to see a significant return on their investment. In that light, you can hardly blame them for the sale.
But, considering Goose Island’s notoriety, many in the craft industry will be fuming. Brewmaster Greg Hall recently did an interview to try and shed some light on the deal. You can read it here.