DuClaw Brewing Seeks a Buyer

DuClaw Brewing Co. is officially on the market.

The Baltimore, Maryland-based craft brewery today announced that it had retained investment banking firm Equity Partners HG to help identify an investor or buyer for the company.

In a press release, DuClaw founder Dave Benfield said that after 21 years in business, that it was “time for a new chapter.”

“We’re excited to see what options are available to us that will allow DuClaw to continue to grow and provide unique offerings to our loyal, craft beer fans,” he said.

Matt LoCascio, a managing partner with Equity Partners HG, told Brewbound that DuClaw is beginning preliminary conversations with interested parties.

“Really, everything is on the table at this point,” he said, adding that the brewery is seeking “the right fit” to carry forward the brand and culture.

LoCascio added that DuClaw was “testing the market to see what options are available before narrowing in on a solution/price.”

An influx of new money would help DuClaw achieve several capital intensive goals, LoCascio said, including the installation of a canning line and renovation at the brewery’s Rosedale taproom. Those renovations would allow the company to take greater advantage of a new regulations that allow Maryland breweries to sell upwards of 3,000 barrels directly to consumers.

“I think people would love to see the facility and sample beer fresh from the line,” Benfield said via the release, “we just need some new capital to update the taproom in order to comply with ingress/egress regulations.”

Benfield added that a canning line would open “a host of new opportunities” for DuClaw and its various contract brewing partners.

The brewery, which opened in 1996, moved into a 63,000 sq. ft. brewery in 2014 after outgrowing two production spaces. That move grew its available capacity to about 55,000 barrels annually.

Last year, the brewery produced about 35,000 barrels of beer, according to the Baltimore Business Journal.

DuClaw’s Bel Air brewpub closed at the end of 2016 after two decades in business so Benfield could focus on brewing, according to the Baltimore Sun. Two other DuClaw brewpubs are operated by franchisees, the outlet reported.

After launching in Florida last October, DuClaw now ships beer to 14 states and Washington, D.C., but Benfield said growing the brewery’s footprint along with the capital intensive nature of the business has proven difficult.

“We have been able to enter more markets in the past three years than the first 18 years combined, but growing distribution takes time and money, and I am at a point where I either need to pass the baton to someone else or find a partner to help me take DuClaw to the next level,” he said in the release

LoCascio told Brewbound that DuClaw is currently pursuing expanded distribution in two states — Tennessee and Indiana — forays that are expected to be made by September.

LoCascio added that he’s hopeful DuClaw will have several “options to pursue to get things wrapped up” by early fall.

“Our goals for the business have evolved over the years, but making beer people enjoy will always remain our primary focus,” Benfield said in the press release. “I am thrilled that we will be in a better position to continue doing that after this process is complete. I believe the best days for DuClaw still lie ahead.”

The brewery’s ownership “will reevaluate the growth plan and decide if they want to invest additional funds to continue the growth plan or maintain the status quo,” should the brewery not find an investor or buyer, LoCascio said.

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