Craft brewer vows business as usual after sale

BEND, Ore. — The founders of a Bend brewery sold to Anheuser-Busch say their business won’t change much after a deal that set off chatter within central Oregon’s flourishing craft-beer trade.

The sale of 10 Barrel Brewing Co. was announced Wednesday. The price wasn’t disclosed. The sale is expected to close by year’s end.

Anheuser-Busch makes Budweiser and is the U.S. arm of Anheuser-Busch InBev, a multinational company headquartered in Belgium. It controls 42 percent of the U.S. beer market, and it operates 13 breweries in the United States.

“The most important thing is this is business as usual,” 10 Barrel co-founder Jeremy Cox told the Bend Bulletin. “The only thing that changes is that we will have bosses in Chicago.”

Chris Cox, Jeremy’s brother, will continue to oversee the brewery, and other managers are expected to remain at their posts. The company employs about 200 people.

The brewery will stay in Bend, and it has no immediate plans to widen its distribution beyond Oregon, Washington and Idaho. 10 Barrel doesn’t plan to add Anheuser-Busch beverages at its pubs in Boise and Bend or the one soon to open in Portland, the partners said.

10 Barrel benefits by tapping into Anheuser-Busch’s expertise in areas such as brewing efficiencies and distribution, Cox said. 10 Barrel expects to sell 40,000 barrels this year.

Other brewers said buyout offers are nothing new.

“There have been plenty of approaches. I probably get 10 or 15 a week, mostly cold calls or spam,” said Gary Fish, founder of Deschutes Brewery. “It’s a popular segment of the industry to be in, and, as such, it’s attracting capital.”

“It’s an interesting time; it really is,” Fish said. “I wish those guys the best.”

Larry Sidor, a partner at Crux Fermentation Project and former Deschutes Brewery brewmaster, said the deal feels personal.

“It hasn’t really sunk in yet,” he said. “We’re all family, and we kind of support each other. It feels like one of our family members has died.”

A craft brewery ultimately cedes something to accountants when it’s sold to a multinational company like Anheuser-Busch, Sidor said. “When making beer for me is all about money, I’ll retire,” he said.

Anheuser-Busch owns two other craft breweries in the U.S.: Goose Island Beer Co. of Chicago and Blue Point Brewing Co. of Patchogue, New York, said Andy Goeler, CEO of Anheuser-Busch’s craft division.

Goeler said the company has gotten active in craft brewing “because of the way consumers are enjoying those kinds of beers. From Anheuser-Busch’s perspective, the first thing that drew us to these guys is the portfolio of beers. Their beers are amazing.”

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