Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Lagunitas Buy-Out Shocker! (Well, Uh, Not Really)

BEST tasting Heineken EVER!
Today, it was announced that 50% of Petaluma, CA based Lagunitas Brewing Company has been acquired by Dutch brewing behemoth Heineken. Here's a LINK to the press release. Read it and weep, craft beer peeps. Of course, this really shouldn't come as much of a shock to anyone. Tony Magee, the founder of Lagunitas, has been dropping hints like a-bombs for a few weeks that he was out shopping his brewery for investors.

First things first, I loath Heineken. It's terrible beer. It smells like a skunk...a dead skunk...a dead skunk that's been under my unwashed armpit for a month. I can't see this acquisition as anything but a plus for Heineken and it's various brands. They will be able to sell some decent, palatable, "craft" beer all over the world. They certainly have the distribution and the big bucks to make Lagunitas a world brand. Hey, isn't that what we all want? The uninitiated, pathetic macro-beer drinkers of the world to drink decent beer? This could be a big step in that direction.

I'll admit that when AB-Inbev bought up Elysian and 10 Barrel, I was up in arms. The Huns were invading my backyard! Given some time to ruminate on it for a while, I'm backing off my "git mah gun" stance just a bit. I believe that there's a lot of emotion involved whenever there are dramatic changes in the craft beer industry. Unlike many other businesses, craft breweries have FANS. It's not unlike the reactions sports fans have when their favorite player is traded, ownership changes, or their beloved team moves away. (I'll never forgive the Raiders...EVER!)

Mergers, buyouts and acquisitions happen in other industries every day, and 99% of the time, nobody even bats an eye. Take for example, my in-laws. They have a free range egg business. Somebody offered them a huge buy-out a couple of years ago. The only reason they turned it down is because 1) they are workaholics, and 2) they want to leave the business for their kids when they go on to that big chicken pasture in the sky.

Can anybody really blame Tony Magee for cashing in? He's certainly not a young man and I'd say he deserves to eat the fruit of his decades of hard work and labor. Honestly, if somebody offered me enough cash to buy my own private island, the only folks who'd ever see me again would be my family and the multitude of grape peeling servants at my beck and call. Come on! You'd do the same thing! Admit it! It's the American dream!

I do hope Lagunitas remains a relatively independent and highly creative brewing operation for as long as possible, without much change to their brand and quality. I guess we'll know something is up if the logo image of Petey the Pitbull is changed to a poodle... Just sayin'.

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