MillerCoors acquires San Diego's Saint Archer Brewing
MillerCoors has agreed to acquire a majority interest in San Diego-based craft brewer Saint Archer Brewing, with the goal of taking its hoppy ales national, the company said today.
Saint Archer, which debuted in 2013 and brews five year-round beers, including a pale ale, an IPA, a blonde ale and a white ale, operates a 33,000-square-foot brewery in San Diego and distributes throughout California.
The transaction is expected to close in October. Financial terms were not disclosed.
It's the first major craft acquisition for Chicago-based MillerCoors since it bought Minneapolis cider-maker Crispin Cider in 2012. It also owns Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing and Blue Moon Brewing. MillerCoors, via its craft division Tenth & Blake, also has a 25 percent stake in Terrapin Beer.
Two-year-old Saint Archer is on track to brew about 35,000 barrels this year, said co-founder and President Josh Landan, who will retain a minority stake in the company and continue to manage it. The brewery also plans to start production of hard cider later this year, provided it secures licensing.
"One of the things that was attractive to us is (Landan) believes and we believe (Saint Archer) can become a strong national player down the road,” said Scott Whitley, president of Tenth & Blake. "They have a complementary portfolio of high-quality beers. It's accretive to us instead of layering on top of the business we already have.”
Whitley said MillerCoors—a joint venture between Molson Coors, based in Denver and Montreal, and London-based SABMiller that's best-known for light American lagers like Miller Lite and Coors Light—is underindexed in hop-forward beers like pale ales and India pale ales, both of which Saint Archer brews.
Saint Archer will continue to brew its own beers, at least in the near term, but will benefit from MillerCoors' heft in procurement, distribution and processes. Whitley promised a "light-touch governance.”
Landan said the majority of his beers are sold in California's three largest metro areas: San Francisco, Los Angeles and Saint Archer's hometown of San Diego. His top-selling styles are a Kolsch-style blonde ale on draft and an IPA in bottles and cans.
He said his business plan never included a plan to sell to a larger brewer, but as the brewery's rapid growth accelerated, it had trouble keeping up with demand.
"Our goal was to sell as much beer as we can in California and ultimately become a nationwide beer,” Landan said. "But this was never part of our business plan.”
The acquisition is the latest in a flurry of activity in the craft beer space. Earlier this week, Dutch-based brewing giant Heineken International took a 50 percent stake in California-based Lagunitas Brewing, one of the U.S.' top craft brewers. And last week, Goose Island Brewing, the Chicago-based division of Anheuser-Busch InBev, took a majority share of Virtue Cider of Fennville, Mich.