Last Call: Executive Moves at Smuttynose, Hop Valley; Boston Beer-Dogfish Head Merger Closes

Smuttynose Brewing Company Hires Brian Walsh As CEO

Finestkind Brewing LLC, the parent company of New Hampshire’s Smuttynose Brewing Company, has hired Brian Walsh as the company’s new CEO, according to the Boston Globe.

Walsh assumed the role last week, replacing Rich Lindsay, who exited the company in May after about 14 months. Christopher Broom Sr., owner and chairman of the company, had been serving as interim CEO.

Walsh spent nearly five years as president and CEO of Pittsburgh Brewing Co., before leaving that post in March 2018. He was previously president and CEO of Long Trail Brewing Company.

In addition to Walsh, Smuttynose has hired Chris Valade as its next chief operating officer, the outlet reported. Valade, who will join Finestkind in mid-July, last served as director of operations for Lord Hobo Brewing Company in Woburn, Massachusetts. He also worked at Craft Brew Alliance for nearly a decade, last serving as director of operations.

In other Smuttynose news, the company plans to open a “Smuttlabs taproom” by the end of August in the former 7th Settlement Brewery space in Dover, New Hampshire, the Globe reported.

MillerCoors Names New Hop Valley President

MillerCoors has promoted Adrian Benkonvich to president of its Oregon craft brewery, Hop Valley Brewing Company.

Benkonvich, a 16-year MillerCoors sales and marketing veteran, supplants co-founder Chuck Hare, who will transition into the role of CEO. Benkonvich will take the role on September 9 and report to Pete Marino, president of Tenth and Blake, MillerCoors’ craft division.

In a note to wholesalers, Marino called Benkonvich “ideally suited” for the role after playing “a pivotal role in the brewery’s expansion as the Tenth and Blake craft and import development director for the Pacific region over the past two-plus years.”

Boston Beer-Dogfish Head Merger Complete

Boston Beer Company’s merger with Dogfish Head Craft Brewery officially closed on July 3, nearly two months after the two top craft beer companies announced the deal, according to documents filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

As such, Dogfish Head co-founders Sam and Mariah Calagione are now officially employees of Boston Beer Company. According to an 8K, Sam Calagione’s title moving forward is founder and brewer of Dogfish Head. Additionally, Dogfish Head president and COO George Pastrana’s title is now president of the Delaware craft brewery. Calagione and Pastrana will both report to Boston Beer CEO David Burwick.

Read Brewbound’s coverage of the merger here.

Deschutes Brewery Adds Distribution in Indiana, New Jersey

Oregon’s Deschutes Brewery announced this week plans to begin selling beer in New Jersey and Indiana. Deschutes’ beer is now available in 32 states and Washington, D.C.

The Bend-headquartered craft brewery will partner with three Indiana wholesalers — including Indiana Beverage in Valparaiso, Five Star Distributing in Columbia City and Zink Distributing Company in Indianapolis — to begin selling beer in the state on July 8.

In New Jersey, the company is working with Peerless Beverage Company to begin selling Deschutes’ beer on July 12.

Reyes Holdings Sells Reinhart Foodservice for $2 Billion

Reyes Holding announced a $2 billion deal to sell Reinhart Foodservice to Performance Food Group Company (PFG) earlier this week.

The transaction, pending regulatory approval, is expected to close before the end of 2019. As Brewbound’s sister publication, NOSH, reported, PFG financed the acquisition through cash on hand, debt and “equity proceeds subject to market conditions of $300-$400 million.”

As for Reyes — one of the biggest beer wholesalers in the U.S. — the question is what’s next for a company that has been very open to transactions in recent months. With a $2 billion windfall, Reyes has positioned itself to potentially acquire other wholesalers — as it did with Santa Maria, California’s Central Coast Distributing in February and Richmond, Virginia-based Loveland Distributing Company last October — or purchase the rights to desirable brands, such as Constellation Brands’ beer portfolio. In 2018, Constellations Brands forced four Southern California beer wholesalers to sell its distribution rights to Reyes in separate deals.

Investment Firm Completes Acquisition of Silver Eagle’s Houston Territory

Private investment firm Redwood Capital Investments has officially closed on the acquisition of Silver Eagle Distributors’ Houston-area territory, the company announced in a press release this week.

As Brewbound reported in March, Silver Eagle, which is the largest independent distributor of Anheuser-Busch products in the U.S., agreed to sell Redwood control over three Texas counties — Ft. Bend, Montgomery and a significant portion of Harris.

With the deal completed, Redwood named Robert Boblitt as chairman of the new company, which will be known as Silver Eagle Distributors Houston. The company also named John Johnson its president.

Read Brewbound’s previous coverage here.

Mahou San Miguel Acquires Majority Stake in Spain’s Brutus

Three months after taking majority control of Colorado’s Avery Brewing, Spanish beer company Mahou San Miguel has acquired a 70 percent stake in Spanish craft brewery Brutus, according to a press release.

“We believe that Brutus is the ideal brand to continue growing in a majority segment of consumers that demand different brands,” Mahou San Miguel Spain unit general director Peio Arbeloa said, in the release. “This beer is a breath of fresh air for the category; with a unique personality that complements our portfolio perfectly and that will help us a lot in our premiumization strategy. ”

According to Mahou, Brutus co-founder Jordi Calvet will continue to set for the strategic plan for the company. Meanwhile, Mahou will begin production of Brutus’ lager at its brewery in Alovera.

In April, Mahou and Michigan’s Founders Brewing Company purchased a 40 percent stake in Avery Brewing. That stake was in addition to Mahou’s existing 30 percent minority interest in Avery that was purchased in early 2018.

Heineken to Sell 150 UK Punch Pubs

Heineken’s pub arm, Star Pubs & Bars, plans to unload 150 pubs in the United Kingdom, according to The Herald. The pubs were part of a 2017 transaction that saw Heineken acquire 1,900 pubs from Patron Capital.

The pubs are valued at more than $75 million, the outlet reported.

Maine Governor Signs Self-Distribution, Franchise Reform into Law

Maine Gov. Janet Mills signed a law this week to redefine a “small brewer” and reform the state’s self-distribution and franchise laws.

Under the new law, “small brewery” is defined as an operation that produces fewer than 30,000 barrels annually. Previously, a small brewery in Maine was defined as one making fewer than 1,600 barrels of beer annually.

The law also increases the self-distribution cap to 30,000 barrels annually, and enables companies under the 30,000-barrel cap to more easily exit their distribution contracts, so long as their brand accounts for less than three percent of their distributor’s sales and hasn’t sold more than 10,000 case equivalents (approximately 725 barrels) during the previous 12-month period. The law goes into effect on September 19, 2019.

California Fines A-B For Air Quality Violations

Anheuser-Busch will pay a $500,000 fine for violating California’s air quality standards, the Associated Press reported. The California Air Resources Board told the AP that A-B was fined after 86 of its trucks were found to be non-compliant with the state’s guidelines, and the company failed to self-inspect diesel trucks.

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