Seven months after acquiring Texas-based Uncle Billy’s Brewery, Artisanal Imports co-founder and CEO Bob Leggett has purchased the Pedernales Brewing Company brands.
Financial terms of the deal, which closed at the start of the year, were not disclosed. The transaction did not include Pedernales’ Fredericksburg brewery, which former Pedernales owner Lee Hereford said is in the process of being sold to a yet-to-be-named buyer.
Leggett was first approached about acquiring the Pedernales brewery — which had been struggling financially — in October. At the time, he passed on the opportunity because he didn’t need second production facility. But talks resumed in December, as Hereford was winding down the business after running out of operating capital.
“I was able to acquire the brand rights for a reasonable price,” Leggett said. “Something that would work for them, and something that I thought would work for the Uncle Billy’s brand, to put the two of them together and basically double our sales volume overnight.”
Uncle Billy’s sold about 4,000 barrels of beer in 2017, Leggett said. Pedernales, meanwhile, produced about 5,000 barrels.
In the Pedernales brands, Leggett said he saw a “good marriage” due to the lack of overlap in styles between the two breweries’ portfolios. Pedernales specializes in German-style lagers, according to a press release, and also makes a trio of beers named for Texas singer-songwriter Robert Earl Keen. Those offerings are currently being brewed under contract at Austin’s Celis Brewery, which also produces about 80 percent of Uncle Billy’s beer.
Leggett has retained Hereford to work as a liaison between the company and its wholesalers. He told Brewbound that the company would now have six people selling a portfolio of beers that also includes offerings from Artisanal Imports. Those brands will be available in major Texas markets such as Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, Austin and Waco.
Additionally, Leggett said Hereford will be tasked with expanding Uncle Billy’s footprint to areas of Texas where Pedernales’ beer is currently being sold. The two brands share the same wholesalers in only about 20 percent of the state of Texas, however, Pedernales is in several more markets than Uncle Billy’s, Leggett added.
“We’ll be looking to expand Uncle Billy’s into some of the distributor networks that Lee had, which really covers every decent-sized city in the state from Beaumont all the way to Amarillo to El Paso to Lufkin to Texarkana,” Leggett said.
Pedernales’ brands will continue to be brewed using the original recipes and by the brewery’s former head brewer, John West, who has been hired by the Celis Brewery, Leggett said. He added that there are no plans to rebrand any of Pedernales’ offerings.
Additionally, Leggett said he and the Celis Brewery are in the process of changing their contract brewing arrangement to an alternating proprietorship, meaning the two breweries will share the facility. Once the alternating proprietorship is in place, Uncle Billy’s and Pedernales offerings will also be sold in the Celis Brewery taproom, Leggett said. He added that some Pedernales brands are already being brewed and sold at Uncle Billy’s Austin taproom.
In 2018, Leggett hopes to increase sales of both the Uncle Billy’s and Pedernales portfolio by about 20 percent.
“That’s a pretty aggressive number,” Leggett said, noting that expanded distribution of the Uncle Billy’s brands would spur growth.
A press release with additional details is included below.
Uncle Billy’s Brewery Acquires Pedernales Brewing Company’s Craft Beer Brands
AUSTIN, Texas – Uncle Billy’s Brewery has acquired the Pedernales Brewing Company’s craft beer brands. The Fredericksburg based brewery, founded in 2012 by Lee Hereford, was well known for its Texas Hill Country and German influenced Pedernales Classic series, Lobo series, and Robert Earl Keen brand of beers. The original recipes will continue to be brewed by Uncle Billy’s Brewery at the Celis Brewery in Austin, Texas.
“We are really proud of the business we built, and the top-quality beers we brewed at Pedernales Brewing Co.,” says Lee Hereford, founder of Pedernales Brewing Co. “It is time for the next chapter in our brewery’s story. We’re thrilled to find another like-minded brewery in Uncle Billy’s that will take the reins, continue our mission of brewing world-class beers, and take production to the next level.”
Pedernales Brewing gained acclaim for its skillfully crafted German-style lagers and ales by winning extensive awards including 30 Gold Medals, 20 Silver Medals, 10 Bronze Medals, and two Best of Show awards at major beer competitions such as the Great American Beer Festival, World Beer Cup, and the U.S. Open Beer Championships. Pedernales head brewer, John West, has joined the Celis Brewery team to ensure the beers are made with the same focus on quality in the new state of the art facility. Founder, Lee Hereford, will lead the transition of ownership and oversee distributor relations for the foreseeable future.
“When we learned that the Pedernales brands were for sale, we knew their award-winning beers would be a great fit for our Uncle Billy’s family of beers, which are primarily English style Ales,” says Bob Leggett, managing partner of Uncle Billy’s. “Pedernales is one of the most critically acclaimed breweries in Texas, with a great line-up of well-made and true to style beers. Just as we have been able to expand the distribution of Uncle Billy’s beers through our partnership at Celis Brewery, we are confident that we can expand the reach of the Lobo and Robert Earl Keen beers as well.”
The Pedernales Classic beers, Lobo, and the Robert Earl Keen beers are available throughout Texas. The Lobo brand, named for the wolves that inhabited the Texas Hill Country, include the flagship Lobo Texas Lager, the Lobo Negro Schwarzbier, Lobo Hefeweizen, and the award-winning Lobo Octoberfest. Pedernales will continue to produce beer named for Texas-based singer-songwriter, Robert Earl Keen, as it has since 2014. These approachable craft beers include Honey Pils, a European-style pilsner made with Texas honey, Front Porch Amber Ale, and River Raft Beer, a refreshing and quaffable lager. About Uncle Billy’s Brewery & Smokehouse:
Founded in 2006, Uncle Billy’s Brewery & Smokehouse is located in the heart of Austin’s funkiest restaurant row on Barton Spring’s Road and is inspired by William “Uncle Billy” Barton, whose 1830’s tract included the renowned springs. Uncle Billy’s offers the perfect combination of award-winning, craft beers and delicious, slow-smoked Texas barbeque. Learn more at: http://www.unclebillys.com/ and connect with Uncle Billy’s Brewery on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.