In an undisclosed deal, Carlsberg has acquired a 20% stake in Mikkeller, the Copenhagen based international craft brewery, allowing the craft beer brand to expand its reach with Carlsberg’s well-established sales channels. Mikkeller's founder, Mikkel Bjergsø, will maintain his controlling interest and remain as CEO, with the US-based Orkila Capital remaining the second-largest shareholder.
The partnership aims to introduce Mikkeller's beers to a broader audience. Despite Bjergsø retaining the majority of shares, Carlsberg sees value in Mikkeller's strong brand. The deal, effective late 2024, won't impact Mikkeller's bars and restaurants in London, Berlin, Paris, Amsterdam, Stockholm, Malmö, Copenhagen, Oslo, Tallinn, Aarhus, Tokyo, Sapporo, Taipei, Seoul, Bangkok, and many more worldwide. Bjergsø expressed excitement about the partnership, envisioning a significant boost in distribution and putting Denmark on the global beer map.
“Two years of Covid and the challenging current cost environment have impacted the international brewing business, with Mikkeller unfortunately being no exception,” stated the Danish craft brewer in a 2022 press release. The company was compelled to sell its 30,000-hectoliter brewery and tasting room in San Diego, California, returning to contract brewing with San Diego-based AleSmith Brewing Company (inside.beer, 22.8.2022).
Two years prior, Mikkeller had already shuttered its second US outpost, the New York City brewery and taproom located in the New York Mets’ home stadium — just two-and-a-half years after it opened. (inside.beer, 24.3.20218)
However, Mikkeller clarifies that these past challenges were not the reason for the announced sale of a 20% stake to Carlsberg. “2023 was a really good year for Mikkeller. After overcoming some difficult times, we successfully steered the business and restored profitability,” emphasized Bjergsø.
"Now, with Carlsberg on board, our distribution in Denmark will reach new heights. I am excited about the upcoming years, where we are poised to establish Denmark among the world's best beer nations.”
Bjergsø added: “This is a big day for me personally. When I almost 20 years ago dedicated myself to brewing beer, it was with a great deal of verve and an ambition to give far more people access to high-quality beer. For many years, we have offered our customers quality beer, but we have lacked well-established sales channels. With Carlsberg’s considerable sales apparatus, this partnership offers us an opportunity to reach many more consumers.”
"We have an exciting portfolio of craft beers, and this partnership gives us the opportunity to offer customers and consumers even more unique variants within the category," CEO of Carlsberg Denmark Peter Haahr Nielsen said. "We have an interest in Mikkeller retaining its very special character, while we can contribute to the growth of the brand with our distribution muscle," he said.