Tenth And Blake Showed Interest In Boulevard Brewing

Large domestic brewer MillerCoors and growing craft brewer Boulevard Brewing Company engaged in talks this year about a potential investment in the smaller company, Brewbound has learned. No deals came from the talks.

MillerCoors craft and import division Tenth and Blake told Brewbound.com that conversations with the Kansas City, Mo.-based Boulevard occurred within the last eight months. Boulevard executives confirmed the talks, but said that no deal is in the works at this time.

Tenth and Blake, whose portfolio includes brands like Blue Moon, Leinenkugel’s and Crispin Cider, said that discussions with many craft brewers are not uncommon.

“Tenth and Blake has enjoyed getting to know a wide variety of breweries over the past two years, including the talented folks at Boulevard,” the company said in a statement. “We can confirm that there’s nothing going on between Tenth and Blake and Boulevard”

A deal would have added another craft investment to go alongside Tenth and Blake’s existing 25 percent stake in the Athens, GA-based craft brewery Terrapin. Terrapin founder John Cochran told Brewbound.com that Tenth and Blake is exploring other craft investments.

“They have expressed to me that they are interested in partnering with other craft breweries around the country,” he said.

A few craft industry members saw Boulevard’s recent hiring of Mike Magoulas, a former MillerCoors executive, as increasing the likelihood of a Tenth and Blake buyout. But both Boulevard founder John McDonald and Magoulas said that wasn’t the case.

“I wouldn’t be interested in joining Boulevard if I thought John was selling the brewery,” Magoulas said. “An acquisition is not something that is in the works and it’s not something that is planned.”

MillerCoors isn’t the only suitor interested in Boulevard, apparently. McDonald said that he, like many in the craft beer space, gets pitched at least once a week from private investors looking to get a piece of the action.

“I have a whole drawer full of letters,” he said.

And while McDonald said he isn’t interested in any investment or an acquisition at this time, the company certainly makes for a nice target. Boulevard produced over 157,000 barrels in 2011 and is on pace to make 175,000 barrels of beer in 2012. They are currently distributed in 24 states and Washington D.C. and recently entered a burgeoning craft market in North Carolina with a network of seven different distributors.

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