Backcountry Brewery is Latest Colorado Craft Outfit to Sell

Another Colorado brewery has been sold. Broken Compass Brewing Company has agreed to buy the assets of Backcountry Brewery in Frisco, according to the Summit Daily.

Backcountry, which opened in 1996, closed for business on Tuesday as the two sides worked to finalize the deal. Reached by Brewbound, Broken Compass’ David Axelrod declined to discuss the acquisition.

“We are super busy with legal filings to get things sealed and can’t really comment until we do,” he wrote via email.

For Breckenridge-headquartered Broken Compass, which opened in May 2014, the Backcountry deal gives it a much larger brewing operation and restaurant space. Last year, sales of Backcountry beer grew 15 percent, to 2,316 barrels.

The newer Broken Compass, meanwhile, sold just 650 barrels in 2016, according to data from trade organization the Brewers Association (BA).

Backcountry owner Charlie Eazor told the Summit Daily that he had been considering retiring, and his family members weren’t interested in continuing on with the brewpub.

Backcountry is the latest Colorado brewery to sell in recent months. In October, North Carolina-based Thirsty Monk Brewery & Pub, which acquired Denver’s Deep Draft Brewery, said it planned to rebrand the location as its own satellite brewery and taproom. Denver’s De Steeg Brewing, meanwhile, was also sold to new owners.

Another Denver craft brewery, Wit’s End, announced it would close its taproom in an effort to cut costs. The company plans to share a brewhouse and tasting room with Strange Craft Beer Company.

At least five other Colorado craft breweries have changed hands in the last year:

  • Fort Collins Brewery was sold to Canadian-headquartered Red Truck Beer Company in May.
  • The Walnut Brewery was acquired in May by Frank Day and Boulder Beer Company, which plans to open a second Boulder Beer location in the downtown space.
  • Also in May, former Breckenridge Brewery brewer John Jordan and his wife, Judy, acquired Pug Ryan’s Brewery in Dillon.
  • Elk Mountain Brewing in Parker was sold in February to Jake Minturn and Doug Hyndman, who rebranded the operation as Downhill Brewing.
  • 1933 Brewing in Fort Collins was sold in late 2016 and rebranded this year as Purpose Brewing with long-time New Belgium brewmaster Peter Bouckaert attached to the project.

Those transactions also followed much larger deals involving some of Colorado’s most recognizable breweries. In 2015, the owners of four brewing companies — Breckenridge Brewery, Odell Brewing, Left Hand Brewing and Oskar Blues Brewery — sold all or parts of their companies. Breckenridge was purchased by A-B InBev and Oskar Blues was sold to Fireman Capital Partners. Left Hand and Odell, meanwhile, sold parts of their companies back to employees via the establishment of ESOPs.

Six smaller Colorado brewing operations have also closed their doors over the last year.

Outside of Colorado, there are several other breweries currently seeking buyers.

Montana-based Glacier Brewing is now on the block for $750,000, after initially being listed for $875,000 at the beginning of the summer, according to the Daily Inter Lake. The sale price includes the property as well as equipment, recipes and distribution deals. Additionally, Glacier founder, president and head brewer Dave Ayers said he would like to be included in the sale.

“We have packaged it as a true turnkey,” he told the outlet. “Everything goes with the sale, including me.”

Ayers said he and a group of investors, who have been with the brewery since it opened in 2002, decided last winter that it was time to move on.

“They have all just kind of gotten to a point where they want to move on to something else,” he told the outlet.

Glacier is on pace to produce about 600 barrels this year, the Daily Inter Lake reported. That’s about 350 fewer barrels than its made last year, according to data from the BA.

Meanwhile, in Hawaii, Home of the Brave Brewing Co. & Brewseum is “desperately seeking investment,” owner Glen Tomlinson wrote to Brewbound in an email yesterday.

“We find ourselves in the fight of our life to save our company,” he wrote. “The saying ‘location, location, location’ rings true with our operation where limited parking and its hidden location in Kaka’ako (between Waikiki and downtown Honolulu) makes it difficult to turn a profit.”

Tomlinson added that he and his wife started the craft brewery in order to raise money for a World War II museum that they opened in 1991. However, the brewery was “undercapitalized” from the beginning, he wrote.

In fact, Frolic Hawaii reported that Home of the Brave along with its year-old speakeasy, the Wiki Waki Woo Bar, would close at the end of the year if it doesn’t find an investor. The brewery is also reportedly hosting a fundraiser and silent auction on November 10 for the museum.

Tomlinson is also attempting to raise $100,000 via a Go Fund Me campaign. So far, the campaign has collected $3,350.

Finally, Portland, Oregon-based Ross Island Brewing is seeking an investor, a buyer or an alternating proprietorship for its “turnkey” brewery and taproom, according to The New School.

Carston Haney, who previously worked for Alameda Brewing, opened Ross Island on January 26, 2017 after a nearly year-long delay due to permitting issues.

“The extended delays and unanticipated expenses involved with permitting and inspections for the City of Portland exhausted my starting capital and left the business deeply in debt,” he told the New School.

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