Buyouts and equity investments are almost becoming a daily way of life in the beer world. Anheuser-Busch has been on a spending/acquisition spree, Constellation Brands dropped $1 billion dollars on Ballast Point – you get the idea.
Recently, Victory Brewing and Southern Tier formed a partnership; Oskar Blues acquired Tampa, Florida’s Cigar City Brewing. For many of the these breweries, the acquisitions indeed allow the brewery to grow, and gain access to larger distribution.
Stone Brewing’s co-founder Greg Koch has always been a very outspoken opponent of buyouts, (as well as “corporate yellow fizzy beer”).
On Friday, Koch was speaking to a group of entrepreneurs in Carmel, Calif. for the “e.g” conference. He unveiled plans to launch a new $100 million dollar fund, secured by independent investors, to acquire a “minority, non-controlling” stake in craft breweries.
The platform is called “True Craft,” which will allow breweries to stay craft breweries. The capital will allow the small and independent breweries financing and flexibility they need to grow.
“Some people start companies to sell out. Some start companies because they are compelled to follow their passion. True Craft is for the latter,” said Greg Koch, Stone CEO & co-founder. “Craft beer needs an alternative model to the one that requires founders to sell their company in its entirety. In a world in which there are constant forces toward homogenization and fitting in, I specifically want to foster a world of uniqueness, depth and character.”
True craft will provide minority investments with minimal stipulations. Each of the breweries will be aligned with the same philosophical mindset of “banding together to preserve craft while retaining full soul and control of their businesses for years to come.”
“This is about setting up a consortium so we can not just survive, but continue to thrive in a world in which craft is being co-opted by Big Beer,” said Steve Wagner, Stone President & co-founder. “This allows companies like Stone to follow an ethos that involves independence and passion for the artisanal. By investing in True Craft now, we can be confident that our vision is locked in beyond our professional lifetimes and we feel privileged to help others in our industry do the same.”
The company structure and formation have yet to be announced. The group of independent investors was also not disclosed.