Heineken buys 50% stake in Lagunitas

Dutch brewer Heineken has entered the craft beer fray, buying half of popular American craft beer brand Lagunitas.

Lagunitas is best-known for its IPA, which is the biggest-selling brand of India Pale Ale in the US (Photo: flickr)

Lagunitas is best-known for its IPA, which is the biggest-selling brand of India Pale Ale in the US (Photo: flickr)

In a statement announcing the venture, Heineken was open in saying that it wished to tap into the ever-growing craft beer market to counter the threat of shrinking its market share.

Craft beer now makes up 11% of volume sales, and IPA is the fastest growing category within that, the brewer said.

The finances involved in the deal have not been disclosed.

Lagunitas, which is based in California, is most famous for its flagship IPA brand, and has been one of the leading lights in the craft beer boom since it was set up in 1993.

It is predicted to sell 1 million hectolitres in 2015 from its two breweries in Petaluma, California, and Chicago, Illinois. A third brewery is currently under construction in Azusa, California.

Jean-François van Boxmeer, CEO of Heineken, said that the company plans to extend Laguntias’ reach into new markets.

He said: “We recognise and respect the tremendous success of Tony [Magee, founder of Lagunitas] and his team in building one of the great US craft beer brands.

“We look forward to that same team partnering with us to expand Lagunitas globally, so it can reach parts of the world that other craft beer brands have not.”

Mr Magee added that the deal “will open doors that had previously been shut and bring the US craft beer vibe to communities all over the world.”

In a Tumblr post, Mr Magee further explained his reasons for agreeing to the deal, saying that he has a vision for the “globalisation of American craft”.

The deal is one of a series of moves by some of the world’s biggest brewing conglomerates into the craft beer sector.

AB Inbev has been the most prolific in its craft beer acquisitions, buying the Goose Island, Elysian, Blue Point and 10 Barrel breweries over the last year.

SABMiller, which produces the Coors and Miller brands among others, also bought UK craft beer brand Meantime this summer.

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