Alchemy & Science, the new craft-brew incubation project from industry veterans Alan Newman and Jim Koch, has made its first move.
The Burlington, Vt.-based company today announced the acquisition of Los Angeles, Calif.-based Angel City Brewing. The tiny (2,000 barrels last year), 15-year-old project started by former home brewer Michael Bowe had expanded two years ago into a 27,000 square-foot space in downtown L.A.
“We have an agreement with Michael that we will develop over the next couple years,” Newman said, noting that he has known Bowe for 15 years. “We see it as a ‘win-win,’ to give him a break from the grind and to allow him to participate somewhere down the road.”
The purchase may have also given observers a peek ‘down the road’ at the future of Alchemy & Science, which was started by Newman, the founder of Magic Hat, and Koch, the founder and CEO of Boston Beer.
When we reported on Alchemy & Science back in October, Newman said he wasn’t sure which direction the project would head, but he did allude to potential acquisitions as a way to ‘build awareness of craft beer.’
Newman said his “instinct” is telling him that the L.A. market has potential for big growth, adding “I think it could be a 10 to 12 share craft market in the next few years and that is a huge opportunity.”
Along with Angel City Brewing, Golden Road Brewing, recently launched in L.A.; it is currently projecting first year production to exceed 5,000 barrels.
“L.A. was always a ‘note-to-self,’” Newman added. “When I came to visit last October, I noticed something had clearly changed since I visited about three years prior. There wasn’t a bar I went to that didn’t have a few respectable craft beer offerings.”
For now, Newman said he will be spending the majority of his time over the next few months in L.A., developing the Angel City project. Additional equipment, and a new federal brewing permit — a requirement when a brewery changes hands — are the main obstacles, but he hopes to have product back in the marketplace as soon as April.
So what’s next? More buyouts? Newman said not to be too quick with assumptions.
“Right now we are working on three projects and the other two I would say are ‘vastly different’ from this,” he said. “I am not actively pursuing acquisitions, but if one came along I’m not going to say I wouldn’t take it.”
That might seem a bit oblique, but Koch, for one, doesn’t seem concerned.
“If Alan (Newman) feels strongly about something, we will go with it.” he said. “We talk about stuff but at the end of the day it’s his decision.”
So how does Newman evaluate a project like Angel City?
“I wish I could give you some brilliant strategic thinking,” he said. “I do stuff a lot on feel and instinct.”
Below is the full press release discussing the Angel City deal.
BURLINGTON, VT – Angel City Brewing Company of Los Angeles, California, for many years LA’s leading “hometown brew”, is now part of Alchemy & Science, according to an agreement effective yesterday.
Alan Newman, who founded Magic Hat Brewing Company in 1994 and left that brewery in 2010, launched Alchemy & Science and joined forces with The Boston Beer Company this past October. Alchemy & Science’s mission is to increase awareness of craft brewed beers around the country.
Michael Bowe founded Angel City Brewing in 1997 after many years as an avid homebrewer including being named Los Angeles Homebrewer of the Year in 1995 and 1996. He started modestly and Angel City quickly became a leader in the LA craft beer scene. In 2004 Bowe went on eBay and bought an 8,000 barrel German-made brewery in Alpine Village near Los Angeles at auction.
In late 2010 Bowe made the bold move to relocate his brewery to the (historic) John A. Roebling Building in LA’s Downtown Arts District. This expanded his space to 27,000 square feet and includes guest parking. At the time he said, “My vision for Angel City Brewing is about being located in Downtown Los Angeles. I think this great city deserves a great brewery and we hope to become that.”
Now, with the resources that Alchemy & Science will provide, the pace of the renovations will accelerate, and it is expected that the brewery will be brewing and open for business early in 2012 with draft beer re-appearing at LA’s favorite gathering places this spring.
Newman observed, “I’ve known Michael Bowe for many years, and I’ve followed his career as a brewer with great admiration — though it never occurred to me that I would become involved with Angel City. Michael’s vision for a thriving and robust brewery for the City of Los Angeles resonated with me from our initial conversations. We are very excited to have this opportunity to become part of the renaissance of the LA downtown area.”
When the construction is complete and the brewery opens, drinkers can expect to see old favorites like Che Pale Ale, Angel City Pilz & Angel City Lager, as well as a few new surprises.
“In addition to brewing the beers that have made Angel City so well respected, the brewery will be a great testing place for new beer styles that we develop,” added Newman. “There will always be something new and delicious on tap at Angel City.”
Bowe, too, is enthusiastic about the Alchemy & Science acquisition. He said, “Anyone who has ever started a business knows that the road to growth is neither smooth nor straight. I followed my dream in starting Angel City, and I furthered that dream in moving the brewery to the L.A. Arts District. But, I realized that what I love is brewing beer, not running a business, so I’m off to chase another dream. Aligning with Alchemy & Science will bring my original vision for Angel City to fruition and will ensure the Brewery’s legacy in uncertain times. This is a win-win for everybody, especially for craft beer lovers in Los Angeles.
Alchemy & Science is a craft beer collaboration, led by Alan Newman and Stacey Steinmetz and funded by The Boston Beer Company. Its mission is to increase awareness of craft brewed beers by exploring and managing a broad range of opportunities, from creating and/or incubating new breweries to providing legacy solutions to craft beer/brewery founders.
Alchemy & Science is headquartered in Burlington, Vermont. For additional information, go to AlchemyandScience.com.