Heineken acquires remaining stake in Lagunitas Brewing

Heineken International has bought full ownership of the Californian craft brewer Lagunitas Brewing Company.

The Dutch brewer acquired a 50% stake in Lagunitas two years ago and this week the Californian brewer’s founder, Tony Magee, said the company had made a decision “to connect Lagunitas completely with Heineken”.

As a result of the deal Magee is reported to be taking on a newly-created role as global craft director for Heineken, while Lagunitas ceo Maria Stipp will retain her role.

In a statement Heineken said that in order to maintain “the Lagunitas culture and free spirit”, the company will continue to operate as an independent entity within Heineken and will report to the Heineken Americas region.

Magee said: “We will look to develop meaningful craft strategies and work with Heineken’s companies around the world to develop and deploy craft – good craft brands in the Lagunitas model.” With reference to the move to sell to Heineken, he explained: “Some who don’t fully understand it all may say it is selling out. Truth is that we did then, and are now ‘buying in’. Money has value and equity has value too. I am using Laguitas’ equity to buy deeper into an organisation that will help us go farther more quickly than we could have on our own.”

In its statement, Heineken said since 2015, when it acquired the first 50%, Lagunitas has continued to outperform the US beer market, where craft beer now represents about 11% of volume sales. It said Lagunitas is the market leader in the IPA segment, the fastest growing sub-segment within craft in the US. Since 2015 Lagunitas has increased capacity at its Chicago brewery and - combined with its California brewery - it has the capacity to produce 1.5m barrels of beer each year. It is expected to open a third brewing plant next year.

Jean-Francois van Boxmeer, chairman of the executive board and ceo of Heineken, said: “Our partnership with Lagunitas has been a great success and today’s announcement marks the next stage of an exciting journey. We look forward to accelerating the roll-out of the Lagunitas brand to many more markets, and sharing Lagunitas craft beer with many more consumers around the world.”

The sale marks the latest in a wave of consolidations within the beer industry, particularly in the thriving US craft beer scene; last week it was announced that ABInBev had acquired Wicked Weed Brewing, based in Asheville, North Carolina. Over the past few years ABInBev has also added others to its craft beer portfolio, including Seattle’s Elysian Brewing, Bend, Oregon’s 10 Barrel Brewing, Virginia’s Devils Backbone Brewing and Colorado’s Breckenbridge Brewery. It also has Chicago’s Goose Island Beer Co, which it has recently been expanding into international markets, including the UK.

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