Can we call a duck a duck?

Recently, we have seen the M&A space for craft breweries in what I call a low boil. Meaning, it’s still hot, but people are talking less and less about it.

Typical deals have been less risky than we have seen in the past. Beer groups are making minority interest investments in US craft beer.

A typical deal resembles this:

Duck image.jpg

After the latest round of minority moves, this article popped up in my radar.

I don’t want to bore you with the details, other than one brewery was defending their decision to make a making a minority investment in a couple of craft breweries. The article quickly escalated to a “he said/she said” over the fact that the acquiring brewery is owned by big beer.

While I agree with the antagonist that if we see a duck, we call it a duck, I want to put out a broader challenge to the craft beer community. More on that challenge in minute.


What is the big stink about the corporate structure of a craft brewery? What is the big deal if someone sells to big beer? How do we get past the bickering when a brewery enters into an M&A event and continue enjoying their beer?

Yes, I know the answer. When Big Beer or a Strategic enters a market, they have the resources and forces to hurt the small independents.

Many people have written about this theory and while some of it is true, I think the creativity and agility of small independent brewers can run circles around the PE money and Big Beer resources. As a matter of fact, in most industries, small independents do run circles around their giant competitors.

The breweries mentioned in this article have done just that. Their brands have grown creatively and quickly to attract the attention of a larger player.

Take a look at this diagram:

Sell Cycle.jpg

This is it! This is the business cycle for fast growing industries! It’s just business people!

Each brewery in this article grew their brand to the point where it was attractive for a buyer to come in and make an investment. Each brewery kept their house clean.

If I could ask any of the owners one question, it would be: How did you do it?

I don’t care about the multiple, the valuation, the terms. I don’t care about the corporate structure. None of that stuff means jack, if you can’t master the cycle.

I want to know: How did you master the business cycle in the time you did it?

To the rest of the breweries out there…..Where are you in the cycle?


I challenge the leadership of 21st Amendment, Funkwerks, Short’s, Independence, or Moonlight to reach out to me so we can have a discussion on how they did it. What would be even more awesome is if two of them reached out and we did a roundtable discussion. I would record it and share with my readers.

Heads up, in the next few days I will be launching something really cool. You will receive a series of emails which will be a little more than what you are used to seeing from me, I urge you to roll with it. It’s gonna be good.

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