Ninkasi Parent Company Legacy Breweries Acquires Aspen Brewing, Laurelwood Brewing

Six months after acquiring a majority stake in Oregon’s Ninkasi Brewing, Legacy Breweries Inc. today announced the acquisition of two smaller craft breweries, Aspen Brewing in Colorado and Laurelwood Brewing in Oregon.

As part of the transactions, Legacy will acquire all of Aspen’s assets, including its intellectual property, production facility and downtown Aspen brewpub.

Meanwhile, Legacy will acquire all of Laurelwood’s assets, with the exception of its Portland, Oregon-based brewpub.

Specific financial terms of the transactions were not disclosed.

Both Aspen and Laurelwood will continue to brew and sell beer under their existing names.

“When we saw Aspen’s unique position in the Colorado market, we instantly knew we wanted to be involved with their future,” Legacy CEO Don Bryant said in the release. “They have a long tradition of local support and great beers. The brewery has a strong history of philanthropy in the Colorado Rockies region, which aligns with Legacy’s values.”

Aspen founder Duncan Clauss, who started the brewery in 2008, will continue overseeing the brewery’s operations. The company has also tapped Scott Kimball as its brewmaster.

Bryant, the former CEO of Yakima Chief, told the Aspen Times that the plan is to double Aspen Brewing’s volume to around 10,000 barrels within the next two years.

Husband and wife Mike DeKalb and Cathy Woo-De Kalb, who founded Laurelwood in 2001, will retain ownership of the brewpub in Portland and operate the facility’s 15-barrel brewhouse under license from Legacy.

“Legacy and Ninkasi currently partner in helping us brew our beers, which have always had a strong following in the Northwest,” De Kalb said in the release. “We’re thrilled to have their continued support in bringing our craft to our loyal customers.”

Speaking to Brewbound, De Kalb said Laurelwood has been contract brewing its Workhorse IPA and Free Range red ale at Ninkasi for the past year. The company produced about 7,000 barrels last year between its contract arrangement with Ninkasi and its own brewpub. It currently sells beer in Oregon, Washington and Japan.

With the backing of Legacy and Ninkasi, De Kalb added that he hopes to grow Laurelwood’s business into new markets where Ninkasi is distributed, as well as expand its packaging formats and launch new products.

Laurelwood’s volume reached as much as 20,000 barrels through a previous contract brewing deal with Full Sail Brewing, and De Kalb said he hopes the new partnership yields similar returns.

“We anticipate that with Ninkasi’s backing and new brands and the reach into different states, we’ll be able to exceed that volume in a couple years,” he said.

In addition to the Aspen and Laurelwood acquisitions, Ninkasi has struck a deal Alesong Brewing and Blending to distribute the Eugene, Oregon-based craft brewery’s products throughout Ninkasi’s footprint starting in November.

“Our recent independent brewery partnerships and acquisitions have rich traditions of support

from their local communities and history brewing only the highest quality beers,” Ninkasi co-founder and CEO Nikos Ridge said in a press release. “Our goal is to support high-quality craft breweries with resources to help strengthen the overall craft brewery market in these regions.”

In April, Legacy Breweries acquired a majority stake in Ninkasi. At the time, Bryant said the upstart firm planned to acquire two additional “Ninkasi-sized” breweries in the Midwest and on the East Coast, as well as 10 to 15 smaller craft breweries in those regions.

According to data from the Brewers Association, Laurelwood’s Public House and Brewery produced around 5,000 barrels of beer in 2018, while Aspen Brewing Company produced 6,000 barrels. Alesong produced 250 barrels of beer last year.

In a story on Aspen’s sale, Bryant told the Aspen Times that Legacy has had discussions with about 130 breweries, although “not all of them fit our criteria.” However, he said the company is in “late-stage discussions with about six of those” companies, and Legacy’s goal is to have 15 breweries within its platform by the end of 2020.

As Brewbound reported in April, the Legacy Breweries venture is funded by family office called Blue Ocean and EPR Properties, a specialty real estate investment trust (REIT) that has $6.8 billion worth of real estate investments, including 158 Megaplex theaters and 32 Topgolf complexes.

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