USA: Short’s Brewing sells minority share to Heineken subsidiary

Short’s Brewing Company, one of Michigan’s largest breweries, is selling a 19.99 percent stake to Heineken-owned Lagunitas Brewing Company. Short’s Brewing, founded in 2002 by Joe Short and his wife Leah, started operations in 2004 in a former hardware store in Bellaire, Michigan. In 2008, an old manufacturing building in Elk Rapids, Michigan just 30 miles south-west of Bellaire was purchased and renovated to accommodate larger scale batches. Elk Rapids warehouse facilities, production capacity increased to thirty thousand barrels per year.

Lagunitas Brewing Co. from Petaluma, California, that sold over 1 million hectoliters in 2016 and ranked 9th on the list of the largest US breweries, sold 50% of its shares in 2014 and the remaining stake earlier this year to the world’s second largest brewer Heineken (, 6.5.2017). With the recent purchase, Lagunitas owns itself now through its investment company Lagunitas US Holdings (LUSH) four US craft breweries. In June 2016 the company bought stakes in three smaller breweries: Southend Brewery and Smokehouse in the historic section of Charleston, S.C., which were rebranded as a Lagunitas brewpub; Independence Brewing Co. in Austin, Texas; and Moonlight Brewing Co. in Santa Rosa, California.

Short's co-owner Scott Newman-Bale explained in a youtube video the reasoning for choosing Lagunitas as a partner: “They’re just very much like us, we had a great time and they wanted us to continue doing what we’re doing without control.”

On Short’s Brewing’s website, Joe Short said, that “we haven’t ever worked with or spoken directly to Heineken. Short’s has sold a minority interest to LUSH, Lagunitas US Holdings. While Lagunitas is owned by Heineken, Heineken does not run Lagunitas day to day, and Lagunitas does not have a controlling interest in Short’s. We are certainly not denying the connection, but our partnership is with LUSH.”

According to the BA’s definitions, Short’s will be still considered a craft brewery since ”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.”

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