USA/Spain: Mahou San Miguel buys 30% of Avery Brewing

Spanish beer market leader Mahou San Miguel has snapped up a 30% stake in Avery Brewing Co. from Boulder, Colorado. In a press release from Tuesday Eduardo Petrossi, CEO, Mahou San Miguel said:”This operation strengthens us as the driving Spanish brewer behind the craft sector and will reinforce our positioning in the United States”.

It’s already Mahou’s second inroad into the promising US craft sector. In 2014 the company already bought 30% of Founders Brewing Co. in Grand Rapids, Michigan, which produced at that year 193,356 barrels (227,000 hl).

Also in 2014 Avery built a new $27 million brewery, which was already extended last year by six more tanks to complement the existing four. This provides now  for a total capacity of 130,000 barrels (153,000 hl) and helped to lift production in 2016 by 26% to 75,000 barrels (88,000 hl).

Adam Avery, founder of Avery Brewing confirmed that the sales proceeds will help to pay back debts while denying that the family had to sell because of the debts. “We didn’t ‘have’ to do this,” he pointed out. “It was an unbelievable opportunity. (…) There is a huge debt reduction, a bunch of cash to the balance sheet and quite a large sum of money going to employees. We definitely wanted to put some money into some people’s pockets, so they could have one hell of a Christmas.”

The decision to take on a strategic partner was already taken two years ago. “At that time, we established our criteria for our perfect partner: Minority Investor, Privately Held and Family Owned Entity, Long-term Investment, Strategic Advantages, and Good People with Shared Values.  Mahou San Miguel emphatically checked all of those boxes for us and is our ideal partner for continued growth, remaining faithful to our beers and our culture, “Avery said.

Avery Brewing was founded in 1993 in Boulder, Colorado by home brewing enthusiast Adam Avery, who at the time had only just turned 27 years of age. His father, Larry, helped him in putting his retirement money into the venture.

Adam Avery was an early pioneer of the craft brewing scene in the United States and was from the beginning committed to produce “eccentric ales and lagers that defy styles or categories.”

His product portfolio is spearheaded by its most emblematic brand: White Rascal. Standing out, above others, are its Belgian type beer, its IPAs and its range of bitter and barrel-aged beers, a national benchmark brand in the United States within this segment. Its products have been awarded 12 medals in the prestigious Great American Beer Festival.

According to the strict rules of America’s Brewers Association (BA), which stipulate that only up to 25% of a brewery are allowed to be owned by a “non-craft” entity, Avery as well as Founders will lose their “craft” status.

When approached by Brewbound, a website dedicated to the US craft beer industry, Adam Avery said: “I don’t care. It is so funny how ‘big beer’ is demonized. The only way private equity makes money is by selling the business to someone else. Guess who will be the highest bidder in four or five years? Probably big beer. As far as the BA’s definition of what ‘craft’ is, I couldn’t disagree more.”

It is worth noting that the Brewers Association is also situated in Boulder, only a few miles from Avery Brewing Co.

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