Lion, one of the two leading brewing groups in Australia and owned by Japan’s Kirin Holdings, announced today it will assume total ownership of Fermentum Group, the firm behind the successful craft brewer Stone & Wood. Founded in 2008 in Byron Bay, a coastal town and popular holiday destination in the north of New South Wales, Stone & Wood became a leading force in Australia’s independent brewing scene after it opened its main commercial brewery 50 km north-east in Murwillumbah in 2014 and another pub brewery in Brisbane, Queensland, in 2019.
The Fermentum Group comprises next to Stone & Wood also of Melbourne craft brewer Two Birds Brewing Co. which was acquired in January 2021, Fixation Brewing Company, a brewpub in one of Melbourne's hippest neighborhoods Collingwood, alcoholic ginger beer brand Little Dragon and Sunly Seltzer.
The deal which will see Lion acquire 100% of Fermentum Group at an undisclosed sum is subject to regulatory approvals. In a press statement, Lion said today it will continue Fermentum’s commitment to the Northern Rivers community, building a new brewery in Murwillumbah, donating AUD 5 million to Stone & Wood’s not-for-profit inGrained Foundation for long term positive impact and another AUD 1 million to conservancy group Big Scrub Landcare Inc.
Lion Australia Managing Director James Brindley said, “We have huge respect for what Jamie Cook, Brad Rogers, Ross Jurisich and the team have created; great beer, wonderful brands, spiritual homes in their breweries and tap rooms, an inclusive culture and a commitment to the community.
“We want to grow what they’ve started, giving their people and beers even more reach across the country.
“We have a shared vision of ‘Brewing as a Force for Good’. Lion is Australia’s first large-scale carbon neutral brewer and we will be backing the Stone & Wood, Two Birds and Fixation breweries to go carbon neutral as well. There are lot of areas where we can learn from each other.
“The Fermentum business will continue to be a unique player in the drinks industry and we are excited about the opportunities for growth ahead,” ended Brindley.
Fermentum Co-Founder and Chairman Jamie Cook said the combination of timing and finding the right custodian to take the business forward made this the natural next step for Fermentum.
“After an extensive strategic review exploring options to set us up for future growth, we decided to test the waters on whether now was the right time for the founding families to find a custodian to grow Fermentum’s legacy, its people, its culture and its brands, and continue to drive the business forward whilst staying true to its purpose.
“We only looked for a custodian who would be committed to building the brewery and to support our work in the community. Not only did Lion welcome these ideas with enthusiasm, they demonstrated they have similar values and a focus on Environmental and Social Governance aligned to our “Force for Good” approach.
“Lion’s custodianship of Little Creatures [since 2012], Four Pillars [inside.beer, 10.04.2019]and New Belgium [inside.beer, 19.11.2019] demonstrates they in fact learn from new businesses, and grow their impact and reach,” said Cook.
“After reaching one per cent of the national beer market in a decade, the next chapter as part of Lion will unleash Fermentum’s full growth potential while maintaining the values and purpose so central to the business’ ethos,” Lion’s press release reads.