Lithuania: Brooklyn Brewery to open 6th brewery outside the US

Danish Carlsberg group and New York based Brooklyn Brewery announced its 5th joint-venture and the third within 12 days, this time in Klaipeda/Lithuania. Both companies will invest €5 million in a new company that will take over part of the current business of Svyturio-Utenos Alus, a company owned by Carlsberg that produces Lithuania’s two most popular beers. A range of small-batch classic and experimental beers is scheduled to launch at the end of this year, following completion of the construction of the new 20,000 hl (17,000 barrels) Švyturys Brewery building.

"A new company will be set up to become the operator of a new beer production line and related businesses, namely, a restaurant, a beer knowledge center, etc. (…) At the new company, Carlsberg and Brooklyn Brewery will hold about equal number of shares. I cannot specify the exact proportions now, however, this will be a standard scheme, under which Brookly cooperates with Carlsberg in other breweries," Dainius Smailys, corporate director at Svyturio-Utenos Alus told Baltic News Service.

The cooperation between Carlsberg and Brooklyn Brewery started in 2003 when Carlsberg took over distribution of Brooklyn beers in Scandinavia, thus boosting sales of the US craft brewer. In 2012,the two breweries deepened their cooperation by opening the New Carnegie Brewery as a joint venture in Stockholm/Sweden. Four years later in 2016, the partners launched together the EC Dahls Brewery in Trondheim/Norway. Two weeks ago, both breweries announced another new partnership on HK Yau – a new brand of beer exclusive to Hong Kong. The penultimate deal was revealed last week, when both partners announced the purchase of 6 year-old London Fields Brewery in the capital of the UK (, 3.7.2017).

Besides those joint ventures with the Carlsberg group Brooklyn Brewery launched in April 2016 Jeju Brewing Company on Jeju Island, South Korea. Brooklyn's 6th brewery outiside the US is a joint venture similar to those with Carlsberg with a group of South Korean entrepreneurs.

In October 2016, Brooklyn announced a two-pronged deal with Kirin Holdings from Japan, where Brooklyn sold 24,5% of the company to Kirin and the both partners would establish a new brewery in Japan (, 12.10.2016).

The fact that Kirin has only a minority share in Brooklyn is important to co-owner and president of Brooklyn Brewery Robin Ottaway because the US Brewers Assoociation defines a brewery as independent if “less than 25 percent of the craft brewery is owned or controlled (or equivalent economic interest) by an alcohol industry member that is not itself a craft brewer.” Being independent is one of three criteria to be fulfilled if a brewery wants to be named a craft brewery by BA’s definitions.

“Let me be entirely clear – Eric [Ottaway] and I will continue to control and operate the Brooklyn Brewery for many years to come,” Robin Ottaway wrote in a statement when selling the minority share to Kirin.

Brooklyn Brewery is one of the pioneers of the US craft beer industry.  It was founded in 1988 by Steve Hindy, a former correspondent of Associated Press and his downstairs neighbor, banker Tom Potter. Originally all their beer was brewed by contract by Matt Brewing Company in the upstate New York city of Utica. The pair started their own distribution company and personally transported and marketed their beer to bars and retailers around New York City. Since 1994, Garrett Oliver has been the brewmaster and is responsible for the excellent reputation of the Brooklyn beers.

In 1996, Brooklyn Brewery acquired a former Jewish bakery in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and converted it into a brewery.  In 2003 first Tom Potter and later also Steve Hindy sold their voting shares to the befriended Ottaway family. In 2014, the brothers Eric and Robin Ottaway were assuming official leadership roles in the brewery, with Eric serving as CEO and Robin as President.

In 2015, Brooklyn sold 325,000 hl (277.000 barrels) of beer, which placed it on No. 12 position of the Brewers Association list of the largest craft breweries in the US.

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