Goose Island Acquired By Anheuser-Busch

CHICAGO – Goose Island Beer Co., the Chicago-based brewing company, announced this morning that it will be taken over by Anheuser-Busch.

Reportedly, Brewmaster Greg Hall will be stepping down.

Stay tuned throughout the day for Brewbound coverage of this news. For now, stay current with information via press releases and a letter from Goose Island Founder John Hall.

Official story to follow.

The official Anheuser-Busch Press Release can be seen below:

Chicago-based Goose Island, one of the nation’s mostrespected and fastest-growing small brewers with sales concentrated throughout the Midwest, today announced it had agreed to be acquired by AnheuserBusch, its current distribution partner, in a move that will bring additional capital into Goose Island’s operations to meet growing consumer demand for its brands and deepen its Chicago and Midwest distribution.

Goose Island’s legal name is Fulton Street Brewery LLC (FSB). Anheuser-Busch reached an agreement to purchase the majority (58 percent) equity stake in FSB from its founders and investors, held in Goose Holdings Inc. (GHI), for $22.5 million. Craft Brewers Alliance Inc. (CBA), an independent, publicly traded brewer based in Portland, Ore., that operates Widmer Brothers, Redhook and Kona breweries, owns the remaining 42 percent of FSB and reached an agreement in principle to sell its stake in FSB to Anheuser-Busch for $16.3 million in cash. AnheuserBusch holds a minority stake (32.25 percent) in CBA.

Goose Island sold approximately 127,000 barrels of Honkers Ale, 312 Urban Wheat Ale, Matilda and other brands in 2010. To help meet immediate demand, an additional $1.3 million will be invested to increase Goose Island’s Chicago Fulton Street brewery’s production as early as this summer.

“Demand for our beers has grown beyond our capacity to serve our wholesale partners, retailers, and beer lovers,” said Goose Island founder and president John Hall, who will continue as Goose Island chief executive officer. “This partnership between our extraordinary artisanal brewing team and one of the best brewers in the world in Anheuser-Busch will bring resources to brew more beer here in Chicago to reach more beer drinkers, while continuing our development of new beer styles. This agreement helps us achieve our goals with an ideal partner who helped fuel our growth, appreciates our products and supports their success.”

Hall will continue to be responsible for Goose Island beer production and the expansion of Goose Island’s Chicago brewery, where production will continue and its business will still be based.

“The new structure will preserve the qualities that make Goose Island’s beers unique, strictly maintain our recipes and brewing processes,” Hall said. “We had several options, but we decided to go with AnheuserBusch because it was the best. The transaction is good for our stakeholders, employees and customers.”

Anheuser-Busch has distributed Goose Island brands since 2006 as part of an agreement with Widmer Brothers Brewing Co. of Portland, Ore., a co-founder of CBA, that provides Goose Island access to the network of independent wholesalers that distribute Anheuser-Busch beers. AnheuserBusch also provides logistical support to all AnheuserBusch wholesalers distributing Goose Island and CBA beers as part of that agreement.

Wholesalers currently servicing retailers with Goose Island beers will continue to do so with no disruption in service.
“These critically acclaimed beers are the hometown pride of Chicagoans,” said Dave Peacock, president of Anheuser-Busch, Inc. “We are very committed to expanding in the highend beer segment, and this deal expands our portfolio of brands with high-quality, regional beers. As we share ideas and bring our different strengths and experiences together, we can accelerate the growth of these brands.”

Anheuser-Busch’s purchase of FSB is subject to customary closing conditions, including obtaining required regulatory approvals. The transaction is expected to close in the second quarter of 2011.

The two Goose Island brew pubs are not part of the deal, but will continue in operation, offering consumers an opportunity to sample Goose Island’s award-winning specialty beers and food selections.

As part of CBA’s agreement to sell its 42 percent block in FSB to Anheuser-Busch, in addition to cash, Anheuser-Busch will provide enhanced retail selling support for CBA brands, will reduce distribution fees payable by CBA to AnheuserBusch and will provide CBA additional flexibility with respect to future acquisitions and divestitures.

Founded by John Hall in 1988, Goose Island Beer Company is one of the Midwest’s first small breweries. Located at 1800 W. Fulton St., Chicago, 312-226-1119,, Goose Island is acclaimed for creating world-class ales, including 312 Urban Wheat Ale, Honkers Ale, India Pale Ale, Matilda, Pere Jacques, Sofie and a wide variety of seasonal draft only and barrel-aged releases, including Bourbon County Stout, the original bourbon barrel-aged beer.

Goose Island Founder John Hall published this letter to brewery fans on the Goose Island website this morning.

Dear Friends,

When I first started Goose Island Clybourn in 1988, drinkers were just beginnning to explore new beer styles and “craft beer” was a term that no one had even thought of. I couldn’t imagine the explosive growth that craft beer has had in the last few years, or the amazing creativity of so many new brewers, and the discovery of the amazing possibilities of beer by a whole generation of drinkers.

I am very proud of Goose Island’s contribution to this craft beer movement, of the many awards won by our brewers, our growing number of employees, our support of the communities and life of Chicago, and the friendship of so many beer lovers in Chicago and elsewhere.

Over the past five years our partnerships with Craft Brewers Alliance and Anheuser-Busch have enabled Goose Island to reach a growing number of beer drinkers. This has fueled our growth to the point that demand for our beers has outgrown the capacity of our brewery. Recently, we’ve even had to limit production of some classic and medal-winning styles. To keep up with growing demand from drinkers we’ve explored a variety of paths too secure new capital to support our growth.

Today’s agreement to consolidate ownership of Goose Island under Anheuser-Busch will provide us with the best resources available to continue along our path of growth and innovation.

I am more excited than ever about Goose Island’s future. With the support and financial backing of our new partner, we will continue to brew our authentic classic styles, develop new amazing beers, and serve our drinkers.

John Hall