Upstart Texas beer maker Hop & Sting Brewing Company has purchased the assets and brands of Grapevine Craft Brewery from owner Glen Harrod.
Financial terms of the deal — which did not include the building and land — were not disclosed, but Hop & Sting co-owner Brian Burton told Brewbound that “it was something just barely within our budget.”
News of the sale was first reported by Guide Live, the Dallas Morning News’ entertainment vertical.
Speaking to Brewbound, Burton and Hop & Sting co-founder Jon Powell said they began discussing a contract brewing arrangement with Grapevine in January, but ended up pursuing an acquisition from Harrod; former owner Gary Humble had already “moved on” at the beginning of the year, he added.
Hop & Sting officially assumed control of Grapevine on June 1. Burton said the company retained all but one of Grapevine’s employees, who left for another job. They also hired an events coordinator and a delivery driver for self-distributing the company’s beer.
Powell and Burton have a long history with Grapevine — both are former brewers. In fact, several of Grapevine’s beers were created inside Powell’s parents’ Southlake, Texas, barn in 2013.
“We’ve been involved with Grapevine in one way or another since day one,” Powell said. “It’s kind of cool to be back here and trying to build it into our little home.”
“Between us, we helped develop the vast majority of the brands,” added Burton, who started his brewing career at Grapevine in 2014. “We do have a soft spot, so to speak, for the brands.”
Moving forward, Burton said the combined company’s top priority will be on building Hop & Sting brands, such as Northeast Texas IPA, Galactic Haze IPA and Remedio southwest wit.
However, Hop & Sting will continue to produce Grapevine’s core brands — Monarch pilsner, Lakefire rye pale ale and Sir Williams brown ale — for on-premise sales in the brewery’s taprooms as well as limited distribution around the city of Grapevine.
“Right now, we’re just trying to make enough beer to keep the taproom operational, and just get some of our brands to the market,” Burton said.
According to Burton, there are no plans to rebrand Grapevine beyond changing the name of its facility to “Hop & Sting at the Grapevine Craft Brewery.”
As part of the transaction, Hop & Sting acquired Grapevine’s 30-barrel, four-vessel brewhouse, giving the 8-month-old beer company the capacity to produce upwards of 10,000 barrels of beer annually. That’s quite a leap for Hop & Sting, which produced just 60 barrels in its first two months of operation last year while brewing under an alternating-proprietorship agreement with 3 Nations Brewing in Farmers Branch, Texas.
“Hopefully, we’ll grow slow and steady and organically and try not to spread ourselves too thin,” Burton said. “But we also want to grow as fast as we can handle too. So there’s that balance that we’ve got to find.”
Meanwhile, Grapevine’s production nosedived from an estimated 7,100 barrels in 2016 to 595 barrels in 2017, according to data from the Brewers Association (BA). Deep Ellum Brewing, which had been producing its Dallas Blonde ale at the Grapevine facility, shifted production of that beer to its own brewery, which is currently being expanded.
Recall that Grapevine joined Deep Ellum’s lawsuit against the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission in hopes of overturning a law that prevents production breweries from selling beer for off-premise consumption. However, in March 2018, a federal judge ruled that the TABC’s decision to not allow production breweries to sell alcoholic beverages for off-site consumption was “rational” for preserving the three-tier system, promoting responsible consumption and ensuring fair competition.
According to Burton, Hop & Sting is considering switching to a brewpub license in order to gain to-go sales privileges, but he and Powell are “still debating” it.
Nevertheless, to fill some of its excess capacity, Burton said the company will look for brewers and beer companies in need of extra capacity.
“We’re open to conversations,” Burton said.