Heineken N.V. announced on Thursday that it has acquired all the remaining shares in Lagunitas Brewing Company. The California based company will continue to operate as an independent entity within Heineken and Tony Magee, the founder of Lagunitas, will remain active as Executive Chairman of the company.
Lagunitas is the market leader in the IPA segment, the fastest growing sub-segment within craft, and sold over 1 million hectolitres in 2016. The brewery was the fifth top selling craft brewery in the U.S. in 2014 before Heineken acquired 50% of the company in 2015 and the brewery was deleted from the list. According to the strict rules of the Brewers Association a craft brewery has to be independent, which means that “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.
In a long letter on Tumblr, Tony Magee described the reasons for his latest sale: “Today we’re announcing our decision to connect Lagunitas completely with Heineken. Some who don’t fully understand it all may say it is selling out. Truth is that we did then, and are now ‘buying in’… Money has value and equity has value too. I am using Lagunitas’ equity to buy deeper into an organization that will help us go farther more quickly than we could have on our own.”
And he goes on to describe his future role: “For the last several years I’ve been the Executive Chairman of Lagunitas. In early 2015 I brought in CEO Maria Stipp to do CEO stuff better than I could. I will still be the Exec Chair going forward. No change to that. Word. The ‘executive’ part of my title indicates that I can jump in wherever at the brewery and cherry-pick projects that matter and that maybe only I can do. For instance, I still name many of the beers, design labels, and I collaborate with Jeremy Marshall (our Brewmaster) about ideas of order for new recipes and other brewing adventures. I did the layout of the Azusa brewery and began the ideas of partnering with smaller breweries around the country. I’ll do more of all of that in the future too. CEO Maria and I will still work to build and maintain our way of doing things.”