The Bruery of Orange County, CA, takes a first step -maybe toward acquisition

The Bruery craft beer brewer takes its name from Patrick Rue, a former homebrewer who finished a law degree and chose to open a brewery back in 2008 rather than practice law (we know some like that in Indiana). Their beers come in tall bombers, include many Belgian styles and have names such as Mischief, hoppy Belgian-style golden ale (2016 GABF Silver) , or Jardinier floral and hoppy Belgian style table beer (Wine Enthusiast 90 pts).  Their craft beers are available in 29 states plus the District of Columbia (according to their web site).

On May 19, The Bruery took major step toward a future acquisition, in my opinion.  The Bruery, of Orange County, CA (think Anaheim and Disneyland) announced they will partner with private equity firm Castanea Partners of Newton, MA.   The announcement (press release) stresses they embraced the investment for continuous improvement and assures that they are still an independent craft brewery.   Of course, we realize The Bruery is in California and the investment firm is in MA.  More importantly Castanea prefers a majority stake (per their web site) and invested in the Fuze vitamin infused juice business and subsequently sold it to The Coca-Cola Company.  They have a history of buying or investing and then eventually selling the brands. Or as I like to say, they ready a brand for sale. This does not happen quickly and The Bruery COULD remain independent for a long time, IF they are truly independent now.   Yet, my business background and industry observer experience suggests this may well be a case of acquisition leading to eventual sale.

Craft beers are not exactly on hard times. However, growth in volume was +18% back in 2014, +15% back in 2015, and was +6.2% in 2016 (source: Brewers Association).  Understand, there are more craft breweries opening regularly and volume growth is growing but not at the rate of a few years back.

I don’t yet look at this investment into The Bruery as a sell-out. But based on  my experience this is a real first-step in that direction.

Greg Kitz