Chicago Startup Eyes Craft Brewery Investments


A new company that aims to provide small craft breweries with both growth capital and operating assistance has launched, and it has recruited a well-known industry veteran in the process.

Storied Craft Breweries, founded by a group of sales and marketing executives from the Chicago area, is currently eyeing investments in the craft sector and is hopeful that it can become an option for brewery owners that are in need of growth capital but unwilling to sell to large beer companies or private equity firms.

Part of the company’s thesis is that too much investment in the beer space has been dedicated to capacity growth, while leaving other key business disciplines behind.

The company has tapped longtime beer industry veteran Adam Lambert — whose career includes sales and marketing stints at Virtue Cider, New Holland Brewing, Dogfish Head and Rogue Ales & Spirits — as its chief operating officer.

“This is a really interesting and unique project,” Lambert, who left his post as VP of Sales at Virtue Cider last month, told Brewbound. “We talk about growth capital, but growth is not just about stainless. As owners have invested in their breweries, this emergence for needs other than just stainless has grown so quickly and people need help beyond brewing beer or expanding their production facilities.”

On its website, Storied Craft Breweries describes itself as a company that can “help create efficiencies and scalability while supporting independent breweries through all facets of business,” including challenges in growth, distribution and marketing.

Many craft breweries have been able to access low interest bank debt during times of expansion, but a vast majority of the bank loans used to fuel craft beer’s numerous capacity expansion projects are only intended to finance hard assets such as brewing and packaging equipment.


But with nearly 5,000 craft breweries all fighting for shelf space and tap handles now, there’s a growing need for investment into salespeople and sophisticated marketing campaigns, Lambert told Brewbound.

As small breweries grow, many owners have found themselves searching not only for the funds to support those areas, but also for the operational expertise to help professionalize their businesses, he said.

So what kind of deals are they entertaining?

In an interview with Brewbound, Steven Berg, one of the company’s founding partners, said the company is in the early stages of development but that it is willing to talk of beer companies of varying sizes.

“We are looking for brands that have a vision to grow their business by building their brands in the right way,” he said. “In other words, it’s not like we have to go out tomorrow and take a 15,000 barrel brand and grow it to 200,000 barrels.”

Berg — who held positions with Bacardi, Coors Brewing Company, G. Heileman Brewing Company and helped to launch the Effen Vodka brand in the early 2000s – declined to share how much the company has raised from its investors or who those investors are, however.

“We believe there is a great opportunity to be a part of such an emerging part of the industry,” he said. “We have a team of people that not only provide the growth capital, but also provide sales, marketing, and operational expertise where needed.”