News broke last evening with an email from Duvel Moortgat, owners of Duvel, Liefmans, La Chouffe, and Brewery Ommegang and more recently Boulevard Brewing is now combining operations with the highly regarded Firestone Walker Brewing Company. This email was followed up with one from Firestone Walker a mere three minutes later. Before one gets all bent out of shape on this purchase, Duvel Moortgat is one of the most respected brewers in the world and have been brewing since being founded in 1871 in Steenhuffel, Belgium. Now the brewery is run by the third generation of the Moortgat family.
There was a time when Duvel Golden Ale was a staple in many American beer drinkers diet. Duvel is a solid beer and one that is worthy of revisiting from time to time. But it wasn’t until early 2003 when the Duvel Moortgat name took a bit more prominence here across the entire United States. This is when they foreign brewer entered into its first acquisition of an American brewery with the Cooperstown, New York based Brewery Ommegang, one our countries most consistent and well-received Belgian style brewer. Then it was not until over a decade later when Duvel Moortgat took on its next U.S. brewery acquisition when the purchase of Kansas City, Missouri based Boulevard Brewing Company took place in January 2014.
Now one and a half years later Duvel Moortgat has announced its latest purchase with Paso Robles, California based Firestone Walker Brewing. Yes, just on the verge of its 20th Anniversary, Firestone Walker is no longer a truly independent brewery. However, in most instances Duvel Moortgat has allowed both Brewery Ommegang and Boulevard Brewing to run independently but use the vast knowledge and infrastructure that the parent company can provide. Granted some of the brewery profits will go oversees but as long as Firestone continues to produce some of the best, most consistent beers in the marketplace its sales will continue to grow.
To better understand this acquisition and to hear both sides of the story below are press releases first from Duvel Moortgat and followed by Firestone Walker.
Duvel Moortgat Press Release:
July 16, 2015 – Kansas City, Mo., & Paso Robles, Ca. – In an agreement signed earlier this week, Firestone Walker Brewing Company and Duvel Moortgat will combine their two companies in the USA. The California brewery will continue to operate independently in Paso Robles under its current leadership of David Walker and Adam Firestone.
David Walker and Adam Firestone, joint founders of Firestone Walker said: “The Firestone Walker and Duvel Moortgat families have combined forces to broaden their capacity and scope as brewers. Long admirers of each other’s beers, culture and breweries, the two teams saw the perfect fit for an alliance. The partnership will allow Firestone Walker to develop our capacity across the US in a conservative and thoughtful way by consummating a life long tie with this family-owned international craft brewer, who continue their commitment to participating in the American Craft Revolution.”
“The relationship I have built with David and Adam made Firestone Walker the perfect fit for future growth,” said Michel Moortgat, CEO of Duvel Moortgat. “We share the same values; have a great mutual respect for each other’s achievements and a deeply-held belief in exceptional quality as a platform for long-term success. Bringing Firestone Walker together with Boulevard, Ommegang, Duvel and the other craft breweries in our family creates a stronger platform in the USA for us both and allows us to collaborate on brewing in different locations across the USA”
“The most important thing that we can do for Firestone Walker is to help David and Adam manage the exponential growth that their team and their brewery is experiencing right now by providing financial and production capacity to support them,” said Simon Thorpe, President of Duvel Moortgat USA. “We are not integrating our organizations. Both Boulevard and Ommegang are also enjoying tremendous success and we still have much to do in realizing our dream for both these breweries.”
The transaction between Duvel Moortgat and Firestone Walker is expected to close later this year. It is an agreement between two private, family-owned companies, so no financial or contractual details will be disclosed.
Now here is Firestone Walker’s press release that the brewery’s PR person Christopher Weir alerted us to a few minutes after the Duvel Moortgat announcement.
From our startup days nearly 29 years ago to eventually becoming one of the nation’s premier craft brewers, one thing has reaming steadfast–we are a family-owned brewery with hands-on proprietorship, a strong coastal California presence and a relentless entrepreneurial streak.
With these traits as our guideposts, we have built our brewery in a conservative manner, reinvesting every penny in quality and infrastructure. This has been the secret to our role in the craft beer revolution and our reputation for brewing highly regarded beers, 80 percent of which are consumed in California.
The riddle for us lately has been how to maintain these found traits while serving a growing demand for our beers. It became increasingly clear that we needed a partner and brewer to solve this problem, and to secure our brewing legacy for the future. But we held off, searching for the right match, specifically one with similar values, culture and independence.
We found this in Duvel Moortgat, a family-operated craft brewer with a track record that spans four generations. Duval Moortgat maintains a singular focus on quality. They begin and end each sentence with that word. This is a universal language we understand. In the end, our conversations always return to the beer, and this the driving principle that underwrites they partnership. There is a clear respect and reverence for the art and work of brewers that aligns with our values and plans for the future.
Duvel Moortgat’s investment in us is an elegant solution that will enable us to grow within a framework that meets our standards–all without losing focus on the traits that got us here.
We will continue to operate independently in Paso Robles as we have always done. Our people and partnerships will remain, and there will be no change discernible in and around the brewery. In other words, we will not miss a beat.
We are proud to be part of this expanded family and raise a glass to our new brothers and sisters.
David Walker Adam Firestone