A popular San Diego brewery has been sold for approximately $1 billion, Ballast Point Brewing and Spirits Marketing Coordinator Nicole Ganzconfirmed to NBC7.
Constellation Brands Inc. said it will buy Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits. Ballast, whose brands include Sculpin IPA and Grapefruit Sculpin IPA, recently filed for IPO.
Ballast Point has grown to become one of San Diego’s most recognizable brands. It employs 415 people and distributes their products in 26 states, and even to countries like Japan and Australia.
They have four facilities, including two in Miramar, two restaurants and two tasting rooms.
The Ballast Point team will continue their day-to-day operations and run as a stand-alone company with their existing employees and management team.
The craft brew company was founded by home brewers Jack White and Pete A’Hearn in collaboration with Yuseff Cherney, a fellow beer aficionado.
“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,” said White in a statement. “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.”
Vince Vasquez with the National University System Institute for Policy Research has been analyzing the craft brewery industry since 2011.
He said the purchase marks a big moment for San Diego's craft beer industry.
"This is an opportunity for craft beer lovers around the world to learn more about San Diego craft beer and our style of IPAs," he said. "Because that bitterness and hoppiness and really distinctive color is unique to here."
It shows that craft beer is a viable and successful product that can be lucrative for investors. It's a good thing for the local economy: it likely means more construction jobs and additional industry jobs.
"Now people have the opportunity to learn more about how we brew beer here in San Diego," Vasquez said. "That could potentially mean more beer tourism business, brand awareness in terms of our regional brand, and more industry financing."
Fans of Ballast Point's beers had mixed reactions to the news at the main brewery Monday.
Kathy Becker said she could hardly believe it.
"They need to stay local and need to keep up the same quality," she said. "That's the key thing. That will keep us coming back."
She also added how much she loved their product.
"The whole family, a lot of brothers, we're all IPA fans," she said. "I now drink the Grapefruit Sculpin every night when I come home from work. It's the best beer on the market."
Bill Fischer, also at the brewery Monday, said he wished he had bought stock when he heard the news.
"I hope they keep all the good things with the company," he said.
"As long as they don't change it, all will be well," he added.
Many fans of the brewery shared their disappointment in the news on the company's Facebook page.
Steve Parsons, Jr. wrote, "An IPO would've been a way to pay back your customers that have supported you all these years with a small stake in the company. Instead you chose to betray your customer base in the name of corporate greed and the almighty $."
"Really bummed that local control will be lost," Jim-Robin Russel wrote to Ballast Point. "Hopefully production will never move and jobs will stay. I'll stay with the brand as long as this happens and quality doesn't drop."
Even so, Ballast Point was quick to reassure them the brand they love will stay true to its vision.
"Our thought is we are joining a team of brands, not getting bought by another brewery...beer will stay the same," the company posted.
Brewing beer is big business in San Diego. At least 115 breweries operate around the county, bringing in more than $1 billion into the local economy and $6.5 billion into the state’s economy.
Eighty-five of the breweries opened in the last five years, and at least another 40 are in the planning stages.
Constellation is the third-largest producer and marketer of beer for the U.S. market. Their brands include Corona Extra, Corona Light and Pacifico.