Constellation Brands Buys Ballast Point

ballast-point constellation
Constellation Brands announced this morning that they will acquire Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits Company for roughly $1 billion. If you’re not familiar with Constellation, they’re “the number three beer company in the U.S. with high-end, iconic imported brands including Corona Extra, Corona Light, Modelo Especial, Negra Modelo and Pacifico. Constellation is also the world’s leader in premium wine, selling great brands that people love including Robert Mondavi, Clos du Bois, Kim Crawford, Rex Goliath, Mark West, Franciscan Estate, Ruffino and Jackson-Triggs. The company’s premium spirits brands include SVEDKA Vodka and Black Velvet Canadian Whisky.”

So far, almost all of the news about the deal is from the press release:

Constellation Brands (NYSE: STZ and STZ.B), a leading beverage alcohol company, today announced an agreement to acquire San Diego-based Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits. Ballast Point is one of the fastest growing craft beer companies in the U.S. with a beer portfolio that includes more than 40 different styles of beer, led by its popular Sculpin IPA and Grapefruit Sculpin IPA. The partnership with Ballast Point provides a high-growth premium platform that will enable Constellation to compete in the fast-growing craft beer segment, further strengthening its position in the highest end of the U.S. beer market.

Ballast Point started in 1996 as a small group of home brewers and remains dedicated to the art of making better quality craft beer. Ballast Point will continue to operate as a stand-alone company with its existing management team and employees running the day-to-day operations. The company is one of the most successful and respected craft beer companies in the country, with an expertise in brewing the most premium, highest quality award winning products, and a grassroots approach to innovation that engages beer lovers and home brewers in the process. The Ballast Point team will continue to build on its successful expansion across the U.S., and will now have access to Constellation’s strong financial position and willingness to invest in growth.

“We started this business nearly 20 years ago with a vision to produce great beer that consumers love and to do it the right way,” said Jack White, founder of Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits. “To achieve that vision, we needed to find the right partner. The team at Constellation shares our values, entrepreneurial spirit and passion for beer, and has a proven track record of helping successful premium brands reach the next level of growth and scale.”

“We believe in the vision that Jack and his team have created and we’re excited to welcome Ballast Point, one of the most respected craft brewers in the country, to the Constellation Brands family,” said Rob Sands, chief executive officer, Constellation Brands. “Along with imports, craft beer is a key driver of growth and premiumization within the beer industry, with craft doubling its share of the U.S. beer market in the last five years. Ballast Point has certainly been a key driver of that growth. Their business philosophy and entrepreneurial spirit perfectly align with our culture and we look forward to strengthening our position in the high-end beer segment with what is arguably the most premium major brand in the entire craft beer business.”

Ballast Point is on pace to sell nearly 4 million cases in calendar 2015, which would represent growth of more than 100 percent versus calendar 2014. Net sales for calendar 2015 are expected to approximate $115 million. Volume and net sales growth from calendar 2012 to calendar 2014 averaged over 80 percent. Ballast Point employs more than 500 employees, produces beer in four facilities in the San Diego, CA area, and sells its beer in over 30 states.

Constellation Brands plans to purchase Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits for approximately $1 billion. The purchase price values the acquisition multiple of the projected calendar 2016 Ballast Point EBITDA in the mid-to-high teens range. Constellation estimates that on a comparable basis (1), the acquisition is expected to be neutral to diluted earnings per share for fiscal 2016 and $0.05 to $0.06 accretive for fiscal 2017. The transaction will be financed with cash and debt, and is expected to close by the end of calendar year 2015, subject to customary closing conditions.


Beer Birthday: Tomme Arthur

lost-abbey pizza-port
Today is Tomme Arthur’s 42nd birthday. Tomme is Director of Brewery Operations for Port Brewing and the Lost Abbey. One of the established stars of the San Diego brewing scene, Tomme is justly famous for his terrific beers, like his Cuvee de Tomme, the Red Poppy, the Angel’s Share and the Track series. Plus, he introduced washoes to the brewing community. Join me in wishing Tomme a very happy birthday.

At GABF in 2005. Jeff Bagby, brewer at Pizza Port, Tomme, and Eric Rose, brewer at Hollister Brewing Co..

After the Five Guys and a Barrel Beer Dinner, a toast was offered with Isabelle Proximus, the Collaborative Sour Ale made by blending beer and done by the five of them. Top row: Adam Avery, Rob Tod, Bruce Paton and Sam Calagione. Bottom row: Tomme and Vinnie Cilurzo.

Tomme and me after another beer dinner, relaxing in the Cathedral Hill bar with Blind Pig IPA.

Tomme Arthur and his oldest daughter Sydney in front of aging beer barrels, when she was very young.

Chuck Silva Leaving Green Flash

Brandon Hernández had the news this morning that Chuck Silva Resigns from Green Flash Brewing Co., published on WestCoaster. I first met Chuck at the old, much smaller, Green Flash brewery not too long after he started there in 2004. As Brandon details, Chuck was undoubtedly a big part of the brewery’s subsequent success. According to the press release, Chuck is planning on creating his own new brewery, Silva Brewing Company, along with his wife Mary Jo. He’s looking at the Central Coast of California, near where he grew up and where he has many longtime friends and family. It’s apparently been in the works for some time now, and starting today, he be concentrating on the new project full time.

About his time at Green Flash, Chuck had this to say:

“It’s been so fulfilling to play such a major role in the accomplishment of so many goals at Green Flash. Together, we’ve come further and grown larger than I could have ever foreseen. I couldn’t have done it alone and I thank every member of the craft community that helped me along the way,” says Silva. “But it’s always been my dream and personal long-term goal to brew on my own terms. Now is the time to go for it and I’m looking forward to working on smaller projects.”

Good luck, Chuck, I for one can’t wait to have a beer at your new brewery.

Chuck Silva, from Green Flash Brewing
Chuck Silva at GABF in 2009.

Beer Birthday: Yuseff Cherney

Today is the 46th birthday of Yuseff Cherney, co-founder, COO and head brewer of Ballast Point Brewing in San Diego. I usually run into Yusseff in the Bay Area or at GABF. He’s a great person and a terrific brewer and I’m certainly glad we can find his beers up north. Join me in wishing Yusseff a very happy birthday.

Claudia Pamparana, co-founder of Faction Brewing, Yuseff, Jeff Bagby, and his then-assistant brewer, Noah Regney, now with Hollister Brewing at the Boonville Beer Festival in 2007.

Sierra Nevada’s Steve Dressler with Yuseff and his wife at the Chico leg of Beer Camps Across America earlier this year.

Yussef with Fal Allen (from Anderson Valley) at Prost Brewing during CBC this year in Denver.

Matt Matthew Brynildson, Earl Kight, and Yuseff at the European Beer Star Awards in Germany two years ago.

Yuseff with 2013’s Hop Queen. (Note: last two photos purloined from Facebook.)

MillerCoors Acquires Majority Stake In Saint Archer

saint-archer millercoors
Not quite as big news as yesterday, but certainly continuing a trend. This Morning, MillerCoors announced that Saint Archer Brewing of San Diego, California will be joining their craft division, Tenth and Blake, as they acquire a majority interest in the small brewery.

Here’s the press release:

Tenth and Blake, the craft and import division of MillerCoors, announced today an agreement to acquire a majority interest in Saint Archer Brewing Company.

Founded in San Diego in 2013 by a talented group of entrepreneurs, artists, skateboarders and surfers, Saint Archer brews an award-winning range of ales including Blonde Ale, IPA, White Ale and Pale Ale. Saint Archer expects to sell 35,000 barrels of beer in 2015, up more than 100 percent over 2014, making it one of the fastest-growing breweries in California. Tenth and Blake plans to support its continued growth under the ongoing leadership of Josh Landan, Saint Archer co-founder and president.

“We have always wanted to get great beer into more people’s hands,” said Landan. “We were fortunate that brewers big and small were interested in partnering with us, but Tenth and Blake was the clear choice. Tenth and Blake shares our passion for putting great beer first. Joining Tenth and Blake allows us to keep doing what we love right here in San Diego, but now with more resources to innovate and grow. With Tenth and Blake’s help, we hope to one day be a national brand.”

Saint Archer’s management and their team will continue to brew, package, ship, and sell Saint Archer’s outstanding portfolio of high-quality brands. Saint Archer will be run as a separate business unit of Tenth and Blake.

“We’re really excited about our partnership with Saint Archer,” said Scott Whitley, president and CEO of Tenth and Blake. “Saint Archer is consistent with our strategy of building our high-end portfolio while driving topline growth. Josh and his team represent everything we look for in a partner. Saint Archer brews award-winning ales across a variety of styles that are complementary to our current portfolio—including some outstanding IPAs. We’re excited at the prospect of working together to support the continued success of Saint Archer.”

Saint Archer picked up two gold medals at the 2014 San Diego International Beer Festival and a gold medal at the 2014 Great American Beer Festival.

Saint Archer joins other leading crafts in the Tenth and Blake portfolio, including Blue Moon Brewing Company, Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company, Crispin Cider Company and a minority equity stake in Terrapin Beer Company.

The transaction is expected to complete in October 2015. The terms of the transaction were not disclosed.


Beer Birthday: Brandon Hernández

Today is the 39th (maybe) birthday of Brandon Hernández, who is the Senior Communications Specialist for Stone Brewing. Brandon was a beer writer before joining Stone, and has managed to maintain his writing cred afterwards, as well. He continues to write for the San Diego Reader and the West Coaster, as well as other publications. And he recently published the Complete Guide to San Diego Breweries. I run into Brandon fairly regularly at beer functions and he’s become one of my favorite people to hand out with. Join me in wishing Brandon a very happy birthday.

Nice towering press photo of Brandon.

With fellow writers at the opening event for the CBC in Washington, DC in 2013. From left, Stephen Beaumont, me, Steve Shapiro, Gail Williams, Brandon and Chuck Cook.

At Churchill’s in San Diego with Tomme Arthur in 2012.

With a bevy of Celebrator writers in Chico for Beer Camp #93 in late 2012, to make a beer celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Celebrator Beer News. That’s Brandon sporting blond hair fourth from the left.

[Note: photos 1 and 3 were purloined from Facebook.]

Beer Birthday: Dr. Bill

Today is also the 53rd birthday of William Sysak, better known to the beer community as Dr. Bill. Dr. Bill’s massive tastings are the stuff of legends, and he’s now transported them — albeit on a smaller scale — to working at Stone Brewing’s World Bistro & Gardens. He has impeccable taste, be it in beer, wine, whisky, cigars, what have you, and is one of the most fun people to taste with. Join me in wishing Bill a very happy birthday.

Dr. Bill and me sharing a plate of frites before the final judging at the Hard Liver Barleywine Festival in 2008.

Dr. Bill with Matt Bonney, from Brouwer’s/Bottleworks in Seattle at Slow Food Nation 2008 at Fort Mason.

Dr. Bill at Falling Rock, hosting one of his legendary tastings, during GABF in 2006.

Dr. Bill’s player’s card when he joined Stone Brewing.

Beer Birthday: Travis Smith

Today is also the 36th birthday of Travis Smith, who’s the founder of Societe Brewing Co. in San Diego. Before that, Travis brewed at Russian River Brewing for a number of years, before moving south, where he brewed at both The Bruery and the La Jolla Brewhouse. His brewery has quickly become one of the destination spots in San Diego, and his beers are especially tasty, standing out in the area surrounded by numerous great breweries. Join me in wishing Travis a very happy birthday.

Travis “MacGyver” Smith showing off the cork gun he made with spare brewing parts lying around the Russian River brewpub. It shot a beer cork a pretty fair distance and would pierce cardboard at 100 feet.

Patrick Rue & Travis Smith, from The Bruery
Travis with Patrick Rue, from The Bruery, at GABF in 2009.

Agostino Arioli, from Birrificio Italiano in northern Italy, with Vinnie Cilurzo and Travis, at Russian River Brewing in 2008 working on a fun collaboration beer, La Fleuette.

Travis behind the handmade redwood bar at Societe a few days before they opened.

Beer Birthday: Chris White

Today is the 47th birthday of Chris White. Chris founded the yeast company White Labs in 1995 and he’s also on the faculty of the Siebel Institute. He’s also a fixture at virtually every brewing industry and homebrewing conference, and was kind enough to talk to my SSU beer appreciation class about. Join me in wishing Chris a very happy birthday.

Chris and his brother Mike bookending Chuck, from Green Fash Brewing, Natalie Cilurzo, from Russian River Brewing, John Harris, from Full Sail Brewing, and Vinnie Cilurzo, also from Russian River, at CBC in Austin, Texas in 2007.

Chris at the new White Labs taproom during the Craft Brewers Conference a couple of years ago in San Diego.

Surly brewer Todd Haug with Chris.

Chris with Technical Sales and Marketing Coordinator Ashley Paulsworth at the NHC.

[Note: last two photos purloined from Facebook.]

Beer Birthday: Jeff Bagby

Today is the 41st birthday of Jeff Bagby, who until a few years ago was the head brewer extraordinaire at Pizza Port in Carlsbad. There, you can read the entire biography of Jeff “Extra Spicy” Bagby. I’m not sure when it was written, but it definitely needs to be updated, as it ends with the following sentence. “Jeff has his sights set on winning a GABF Brewpub of the Year award and we most definitely believe it is in his future as well.” Five years ago at GABF, Jeff won an amazing seven medals and Pizza Port Carlsbad was awarded the Large Brewpub and Large Brewpub Brewer of the Year. That means his plaid pants got to go up on stage a record eight times! You can see a retrospective of Jeff’s plaid choices over the years, too, at Jeff “Lucky Pants” Babgy Wins Big. Once he started working on opening his own brewery, I suggested he should consider “Plaid Brewing” or some variation of that idea, like “Plaid Pants Brewing” or “Lucky Plaid Brewing.” Unfortunately, he went with a more sensible Bagby Beer Co., which opened last year. All, well some, kidding aside, Jeff is a terrific brewer and a hell of a washoes player, though I still think Dave Keene and I could beat him and Tomme again. Join me at wishing Jeff a very happy birthday.

Jeff Bagby & His Girlfriend, from Pizza Port - Carlsbad
Jeff with his then-girlfriend, now wife, Dande at GABF a few years ago. And yes, those are his lucky pants.

Greg Koch & Jeff Bagby
Greg Koch and Jeff at the Falling Rock.

Former Drake’s brewer Melissa Myers with Jeff at an event at Anchor celebrating the Toronado’s 20th anniversary.

Sam Calagione, Bruce Paton and Jeff at the Lost Abbey for a beer dinner during CBC.

Jeff at the Toronado for the annual Belgian Beer Dinner in 2012, with owner Dave Keene wearing his “Who the F@#k is Jeff Bagby?” T-shirt.

Dandelian and Jeff Bagby in the upstairs loft dining area of their new brewery. The plaid back of the bench seating was inspired by Jeff’s winning plaid pants that he used to wear for GABF award ceremonies, as I detailed several years ago in Jeff “Lucky Pants” Bagby Wins Big.