Mikkeller and AleSmith to Establish New Joint Venture

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One of the world’s preeminent nomad brewers is getting ready to settle down.

Mikkel Borg Bjergsø, the Danish beer maker who travels the world producing labels under the Mikkeller brand, has forged a “creative partnership” with San Diego’s AleSmith Brewing that will include an old brewing facility AleSmith had been planning vacate this summer.

Though the still unnamed, the new joint venture and existing brewery will primarily produce Mikkeller branded beers. Bjergsø and AleSmith owner Peter Zien will both hold equity in the new company, which is expected to officially launch in June.

As Brewbound previously reported, AleSmith secured a lease on a 105,000 sq. ft. building a mere two blocks from its digs in San Diego last March to allay its own capacity constraints. Unbeknownst to Zien at the time, though, that $10 million expansion project would clear the way for a deal with Mikkeller.

“For me, I didn’t really want to walk away completely. I’ve got a great thing going, I spent years building that brewery. My blood, sweat and tears are in that concrete,” Zien told Brewbound. “So I was writing to [Mikkel] and I hadn’t found a good solution for the old facility, and while I was writing the email, it just kind of came to me. Here’s a brewer I like, I trust, I respect. Maybe he wants to start brewing in the U.S. and not worry about all that shipping and stuff. So I just threw it out there.”

Bjergsø could not be immediately reached for comment, but he told U-T San Diego that establishing an American outpost will help alleviate some of the troubles associated with shipping beers from Europe to the U.S.

“It’s hard to keep them fresh and keep them at a fair price,” he told the website.

For Bjergsø, the new joint venture comes with one huge perk: a turnkey solution for domestic beer production that doesn’t include costly upfront equipment purchases. It’s unclear how the existing AleSmith brewing assets will help determine each partner’s stakes in the joint venture, but Zien confirmed that Mikkeller would be purchasing an equity portion of the new company.

The place is comprised of five suites amounting to nearly 20,000 sq. ft. with a tasting room and current capacity to brew 15,000 barrels, but there is room to grow. The new company also has tentative plans to build out a separate merchandise and bottle shop onsite.


But the exact shape the operation will take is still undetermined, according to Zien. Though the company will produce up to six core Mikkeller beers, Zien said it’s possible that entirely new brands will emerge from the brewery. Zien said the venture will also have the collaborative spirit coded into its DNA.

While a name has yet to be decided on, Zien is pushing for the Mikkeller moniker. “He’s so well branded,” he said.

Mikkeller also already has existing presence in the state with its Mikkeller Bar in San Francisco, one of a number of bars, tasting rooms and bottle shops Mikkeller operates throughout the world.

And this latest partnership with AleSmith is hardly Mikkeller’s only strategic play.

The globetrotting brewer is also working towards opening WarPigs, a collaborative brewpub in Copenhagen, Denmark with Indiana’s 3 Floyds Brewing.

While that project has been public knowledge for a while, White Labs, the San Diego pure yeast and fermentation laboratory, announced this week it would be a part of the project as it plans to open its first European space at the WarPigs location.

White Labs told Brewbound they expect to be operational in Europe this year.