The era of microbrewery consolidation is underway, and latest craft deal to cross the newswire is between a pair of small producers in Arizona.
Fast-growing Huss Brewing Company, founded in South Tempe just three years ago by husband-and-wife team Jeff and Leah Huss, today announced its acquisition of the more established Papago Brewing Company, which was founded in 2001 in Scottsdale.
Terms of the deal, brokered by craft brewery matchmaker First Beverage Group, were not disclosed. The transaction closed in late August, according to press materials.
The tie-up shouldn’t be a surprise to beer industry professionals in Arizona – the two companies have shared a close bond for years: Leah Huss co-owned and operated Papago Brewing for 14 years before leaving to start Huss Brewing with her husband. Huss had also been producing the Papago labels under contract since 2013.
The combined entities will become the third largest craft operation in Arizona — behind Four Peaks Brewing and San Tan Brewing — according to a press release that cites Nielsen scan data. Together, the two companies will brew approximately 9,000 barrels in 2016.
According to Leah Huss, the purchase ensures that the Papago brand will “stay in Arizona and not be bought by an out of state or international conglomerate.”
Papago launched in 2001 as a bottle shop, homebrew supply store and tasting room, and is most recognized in for its Orange Blossom mandarin wheat beer. But capacity constraints at its small restaurant and taproom in the Papago shopping plaza meant that it needed to outsource production of its namesake beer label to other breweries.
That location was not included in the deal and will continue to operate independently while using the Papago Brewing name under license, according to the release.
“Unlike many other of the big brewery mega mergers that have occurred over the last few years where global conglomerates come in and buy local breweries and say nothing will change, in this deal it is being kept local and is in the best interest of consumers, and yes, things will change,” Ron Kloth, President of Papago Brewing said via the release. “Papago first started out as a small homebrew shop, but as the craft beer market has grown, and the beer production side of our business has also grown dramatically, we realized Huss Brewing can support the Papago brand in the Arizona market better than we could, and this deal is just the next logical step for us to go in order to continue our business evolution.”
In the release, Huss Brewing Co. sales chief Chip Mulala said acquisition will enable the company to “effectively manage the growth of all of our brands under one umbrella.”
Similar deals between small companies have been struck across the U.S. in recent months: In May, Asheville’s Thirsty Monk Pub and Brewery announced it would acquire neighboring French Broad Brewery. In February, Brew Bus, a Tampa-based brewery tour operator, announced its purchase of Florida Avenue Brewing. And in late 2014, San Diego’s Green Flash Brewing purchased nearby Alpine Beer Company.
Last month, Huss Brewing announced plans to open a second taproom location in Uptown Plaza in Phoenix, Ariz.