Heartwarming and meaningful, but are the efforts to save Anchor realistic? Also, more merger news. And more
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A slightly different approach this week. Two quick hits and one deeper dive. We’re still in the process of figuring out exactly what this newsletter is supposed to be, so send us some feedback or shoot us an email. We appreciate that. Let’s get to it
Another craft-on-craft acquisition
This one is a bit different. It’s something of a homecoming, not just a buyout. Two breweries in Nebraska are now joined as one. Brickway Brewing is buying Lucky Bucket Brewing. (Each of those breweries is also in the distilling biz.) Here’s the twist. Zac Triemert co-founded Lucky Bucket in 2008. Four years later, he sold it. Zac then opened another brewery, Brickway Brewing, in 2013. Now, Brickway is buying Lucky Bucket. The story is not exactly fresh. The deal was announced last month, but it didn’t make it into our inbox until this week. Read all about this merger/acquisition here.
We’re still unpacking that poll
Here’s another nugget from that Harris Poll the Brewers Association recently conducted. The BA’s Bart Watson noted that millennials are coming of age, entering the 35- to 49-year-old age range, which is an alcohol-spending sweet spot. (More about the poll on last week’s Tray and the previous week’s too.)
Another opportunity, according to Watson, craft beer continues to under-index with women and non-white consumers. Clearly, craft beer can do a better job of appealing to those consumers. That might not be as easy as it sounds, but it certainly is a growth opportunity.
If there’s still hope for Anchor, what does it mean?
Last week’s big news involved the closing of Anchor Brewing, which is/was owned by Sapporo. This week, perhaps predictably, the big news involves the efforts to save Anchor Brewing. Several suitors have stepped up and made noise about buying and saving the brewery. Most recently, news broke last night that Anchor’s employees want to make a play to buy and reopen the brewery. Realistic or not, there’s a feel-good aspect to this chapter of the story. It’s heartwarming to hear how much Anchor means to folks, but is that enough?
From an objective, unemotional standpoint, which is how Sapporo and Anchor Brewing’s creditors are looking at it, the brewery is now just a collection of sellable assets: the highly valuable real estate in the city of San Francisco (pictured above), the liquidatable equipment inside the building, and the brand and the intellectual property. Away from those assets, it is much more difficult to capitalize on the nostalgia and the history. Your Granddad’s story about his first Anchor Steam does directly serve to relieve debt.
Our hearts would swell if a knight in shining armor rode in and rescued the brewery. That could happen. There’s certainly plenty of talk. But, do knights in shining armor exercise due diligence before swooping in to save the day?
None of this happened in a vacuum. Anchor Brewing’s financial troubles are not an anomaly. The business of beer is tricky these days for any brewery; moreover, in an environment where consumers seem to gravitate towards whatever is new or different, the beer biz is especially tricky for legacy breweries. And no brewery is more legacy than Anchor.
Here’s a bright spot. The way the news was such a powerful gut punch for so many people says something. The outpouring of support and the reports about potential suitors now interested in purchasing and reviving Anchor Brewing speaks volumes about how craft breweries earn a place in people’s hearts. If Anchor was a company that manufactured just about anything other than craft beer, would anyone even care about its demise?
It’s a balancing act. A craft brewery needs to be hip and relevant, but also trusted and respected. How can a brewery age gracefully and also appeal to the cool kids? It’s a million-dollar question and we’d love to hear your thoughts. Leave us some feedback or shoot us an email.
Reader feedback from last week’s story about new IPAs and the lack of bitterness.
janaumann@... said: “I am glad I am old like you! I don’t want my beer to taste like fruit juice. The bitter piney element that hops bring gives such good balance. Without that I am left unsatisfied! ”
So how did we do this week?
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This week's Taster Tray was composed by Kendall Jones.