Breaking news this morning is that Constellation Brands, a “leading beverage alcohol company,” according to NASDAQ, has agreed to purchase San Diego’s Ballast Point Brewing for US$1 billion. This will bring Sculpin IPA and Grapefruit Sculpin into a portfolio that also includes Corona – which is owned by ABI, but the marketing and distribution in the United States of which is owned by Constellation – Clos du Bois wines and SVEDKA Vodka.
Although it’s doubtful that anyone without insider information anticipated this particular tie-up, it shouldn’t be surprising that the number three beer company in the U.S. would be interested in adding a craft brand to their line-up. Surprising perhaps that they valued Ballast Point at one billion dollars – a number that was bandied about and had many industry observers scratching their heads when Heineken bought half of Lagunitas – but not so much that a strong regional player on the verge of becoming a national force was deemed an attractive target.
In the release published in the NASDAQ website at 9:04 this morning, Ballast Point founder Jack White was quoted as saying:
“We started this business nearly 20 years ago with a vision to produce great beer that consumers love and to do it the right way. To achieve that vision, we needed to find the right partner. The team at Constellation shares our values, entrepreneurial spirit and passion for beer, and has a proven track record of helping successful premium brands reach the next level of growth and scale.”
So, the marketer of Modelo Especial and Corona Light shares Ballast Point’s “passion for beer,” eh? Please. Constellation may be many things, entrepreneurial and successful certainly among them, but let’s stow the passion talk, shall we? This is, I strongly suspect, another in a long and, no doubt, soon lengthening line of brewery purchases that have at their core an interest in cashing out on the part of the owners and/or investors.
There is nothing wrong with that. It would just be nice for someone on the receiving end of the bigger company’s largesse to say that. Just once.