InBev aka AnheuserBusch has purchased the iconic Chicago small brewer, Goose Island. I’m saddened, but money talks louder than pride, and I hope John Hall spends his new cash wisely. I will continue to drink Goose Island beer, unless they start cutting back on quality, but it just won’t be the same to drink Budweiser in a fancier bottle. President Obama can now give politicians Bud Light instead of Goose Island without blinking.
Chicago-based Goose Island, one of the nation’s most respected and fastest-growing small brewers with sales concentrated throughout the Midwest, today announced it had agreed to be acquired by AnheuserBusch, its current distribution partner, in a move that will bring additional capital into Goose Island’s operations to meet growing consumer demand for its brands and deepen its Chicago and Midwest distribution.
Goose Island’s legal name is Fulton Street Brewery LLC (FSB). Anheuser-Busch reached an agreement to purchase the majority (58 percent) equity stake in FSB from its founders and investors, held in Goose Holdings Inc. (GHI), for $22.5 million. Craft Brewers Alliance Inc . (CBA), an independent, publicly traded brewer based in Portland, Ore., that operates Widmer Brothers, Redhook and Kona breweries, owns the remaining 42 percent of FSB and reached an agreement in principle to sell its stake in FSB to Anheuser-Busch for $16.3 million in cash. AnheuserBusch holds a minority stake (32.25 percent) in CBA.
Goose Island sold approximately 127,000 barrels of Honkers Ale, 312 Urban Wheat Ale, Matilda and other brands in 2010. To help meet immediate demand, an additional $1.3 million will be invested to increase Goose Island’s Chicago Fulton Street brewery’s production as early as this summer.
“Demand for our beers has grown beyond our capacity to serve our wholesale partners, retailers, and beer lovers,” said Goose Island founder and president John Hall, who will continue as Goose Island chief executive officer. “This partnership between our extraordinary artisanal brewing team and one of the best brewers in the world in Anheuser-Busch will bring resources to brew more beer here in Chicago to reach more beer drinkers, while continuing our development of new beer styles. This agreement helps us achieve our goals with an ideal partner who helped fuel our growth, appreciates our products and supports their success.”
The two Goose Island brew pubs are not part of the deal, but will continue in operation, offering consumers an opportunity to sample Goose Island’s award-winning specialty beers and food selections.
Founded by John Hall in 1988, Goose Island Beer Company is one of the Midwest’s first small breweries. Located at 1800 W. Fulton St., Chicago, Goose Island is acclaimed for creating world-class ales, including 312 Urban Wheat Ale, Honkers Ale, India Pale Ale, Matilda, Pere Jacques, Sofie and a wide variety of seasonal draft only and barrel-aged releases, including Bourbon County Stout, the original bourbon barrel-aged beer.
(click here to continue reading Goose Island Selects Current Partner Anheuser-Busch for Growth Strategy; Chicago Small Brewer, Craft Brewers Alliance to Sell Stakes in Goose Island; Expansion of Chicago Brewery Planned.)
John Hall explains
When I first started Goose Island Clybourn in 1988, drinkers were just beginnning to explore new beer styles and “craft beer” was a term that no one had even thought of. I couldn’t imagine the explosive growth that craft beer has had in the last few years, or the amazing creativity of so many new brewers, and the discovery of the amazing possibilities of beer by a whole generation of drinkers.
I am very proud of Goose Island’s contribution too this craft beer movement, of the many awards won by our brewers, our growing number of employees, our support of the communities and life of Chicago, and the friendship of so many beer lovers in Chicago and elsewhere.
Over the past five years our partnerships with Craft Brewers Alliance and Anheuser-Busch have enabled Goose Island to reach a growing number of beer drinkers. This has fueled our growth to the point that demand for our beers has outgrown the capacity of our brewery. Recently, we’ve even had to limit production of some classic and medal-winning styles. To keep up with growing demand from drinkers we’ve explored a variety of paths too secure new capital to support our growth.
Today’s agreement to consolidate ownership of Goose Island under Anheuser-Busch will provide us with the best resources available to continue along our path of growth and innovation.
I am more excited than ever about Goose Island’s future. With the support and financial backing of our new partner, we will continue to brew our authentic classic styles, develop new amazing beers, and serve our drinkers.
Yeah, well, we’ll see.