Stone Brewing, San Diego County’s largest brewing company, has been acquired by the U.S. subsidiary of Japanese beer giant Sapporo, it was announced on Friday.
The deal is valued at approximately $165 million with potential for additional payments based on business performance and is expected to close in August.
“This is the next chapter for Stone Brewing,” said Greg Koch, co-founder and executive chairman of Stone Brewing. “For 26 years, our amazing team has worked tirelessly to brew beers that have set trends and redefined expectations.
“Having the interest of a company like Sapporo in continuing Stone’s story is a testament to the great beers we’ve created and will continue to create for our fans around the world,” he said.
Sapporo intends to produce its Sapporo-branded beers for distribution at Stone Breweries in Escondido and Richmond, Virginia. A statement from Sapporo says the company aims to brew 360,000 barrels in the United States by the end of 2024, essentially doubling Stone’s current production. The acquisition will bring together “the complementary strengths of Japanese artistry and innovation with the American craft brewing tradition in a fusion of cultures,” reads a statement from the Japanese company.
“We approached Stone Brewing looking for a partner for our growth plans in the United States, and quickly recognized that they were an ideal partner with bi-coastal brewing capability, fans loyal customers, superb management, shared cultural values and a commitment to the highest quality standards,” said Kenny Sadai, President of Sapporo USA “This acquisition combines the resources and heritage of Asia’s leading beer brand in America to one of the most innovative and recognized craft beer brands in the world.
“It’s a perfect fusion of east and west which is an ideal match for Sapporo’s long-term growth strategy in the United States,” he said.
Stone will continue to brew its beers at both breweries, as well as operate its seven taprooms with the existing brand, management and workforce under the Sapporo umbrella.
“I am delighted that we have the opportunity to partner with Sapporo,” said Maria Stipp, CEO of Stone Brewing. “This unique partnership allows us to preserve the Stone legacy that our fans know and love and will add exponential growth opportunities, from production to further investment in people, equipment, sales and marketing.”
Stone is the second acquisition in the craft beer market for Sapporo, following the purchase of Anchor Brewing in San Francisco in 2017.
Stone Distributing, Stone’s distribution business, is not part of the sale and will become an independent company under current ownership. Stone Distributing will continue to serve Southern California with a portfolio of 42 craft brands.
Prior to this purchase, Stone was the ninth-largest craft beer producer in the United States, according to the Brewers Association. The county’s new largest “craft” beer producer will become the Convicts and Kings/Ballast Point merger, followed by Modern Times – which has just been taken over by Orange County’s X Brewery. Recent moves in the beer industry mean that San Diego, once considered a craft beer capital, will have no local representatives in the Brewers Association’s top 50.