USA: Heineken-owned Lagunitas divests Moonlight Brewing

Heineken-owned Lagunitas Brewing Co has sold its 50% stake in Petaluma-based Moonlight Brewing to Patrick Rue, a veteran of the craft beer industry. The value of the acquisition was not disclosed.

Rue, who will be actively involved in Moonlight Brewing, has been working his whole work life in the beverage industry. After finishing law school, he founded The Bruery (a fusion between his family name and the word "brewery") in Placentia, California, Californiain 2008, and focused since its inception on barrel aging. In 2017 he sold his stake to a private equity firm. In the aftermath, he founded Erosion Wine Co. in St. Helena, California, a company for marketing canned wine and beer.

Now, Rue returns to the US craft market and will direct Moonlight’s oak barrel aging program.At its current location in a northwest Santa Rosa business park, the 4,000-barrel-a-year brewery has space for one more fermenter, which would allow expansion by about 17%, he told the North Bay Business Journal.

Lagunitas CEO Denis Peek, said in a statement that despite having “a mutually agreeable partnership,” with Moonlight Brewing, Lagunitas wants “to focus on the potential of [its] core beer brands and new exciting innovations.”

Lagunitas itself is since 2017 fully owned by Heineken, (, 6.5.2017) but has been facing some problems which included a change of CEO and two rounds of layoffs since 2018. (, 3.10.2018)

In its 2021 balance sheet, Heineken acknowledged that the results obtained with Lagunitas had fallen short of its ambitions in the United States, although highlighted international growth, which was above double-digit in Brazil, France, Italy and the Netherlands.

Moonlight Brewing was founded by Brian Hunt in 1992. In 2016, Hunt sold 50% of the brewery to Lagunitas, that is like Moonlight Brewing based in Petaluma, 40 miles (63 km) north of San Francisco, California. Despite the sale, Moonlight Brewing has always been run independently from Lagunitas, according to the statement.

The change in ownership will allow for “patient growth, greater availability of its coveted beers to its fans and wholesale partners,” the statement concludes.

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