Big beer brands are continuing to buy up craft breweries, generating work for deal-thirsty lawyers around the U.S.
“The growth in craft beer has eclipsed the growth for mainstream beers,” said Holland & Knight Miami corporate partner Marc Druckman. “Big beer has taken notice and by that fact has sought to acquire these craft breweries in order to enhance their own growth and not lose market share.”
Druckman represented Funky Buddha Brewery, South Florida’s largest craft brewery, in its sale Wednesday to publicly traded Constellation Brands Inc., a leading alcoholic beverage company. The Holland & Knight team included corporate, tax, intellectual property and regulatory attorneys, and Druckman said work left them eager to represent more craft brewers in the future.
In another recent craft beer deal that closed last month, DLA Piper represented Wynwood Brewing Company, a family owned craft brewery based in Miami, in a distributor alliance with Craft Brew Alliance, the fifth-largest brewing company in the U.S.
Under that agreement, Craft Brew Alliance will receive a 24.5 percent share in the brewery and act as master distributor, expanding national marketing and product placement. The deal also allows Wynwood to expand its production capacity using the Craft Brew Alliance production facility located in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. DLA Piper also advised Wynwood Brewing on matters related to the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, including change of control and change of proprietorship implications.
In the Holland & Knight transaction, Boca Raton-based Funky Buddha, founded in 2010, has an Oakland Park production brewery that distributes draught beer to more than 650 retail outlets from Key West to Central Florida. Its portfolio is led by beers such as Floridian Hefeweizen and Hop Gun IPA.
It’s all now part of the Craft & Specialty Beer Group at Constellation Brands, an international producer and marketer of beer, wine and spirits. The group includes Corona Extra, Corona Light, Modelo Especial, Negra Modelo and Pacifico. Constellation bills itself as the No. 3 beer company in the U.S.
Both parties want the Funky Buddha craft beers to stay crafty and creative, Druckman said. Funky Buddha Brewery’s team of employees will continue to work together, with its original founders running the day-to-day operations. The founders are encouraged to continue developing brands and keeping the craft brew mentality while Big Beer grows the brand nationally.
While regions such as the Midwest may have more craft beer companies than Florida, craft beer is growing in popularity nationwide. Druckman said some 5,000 craft brewers were operating in the U.S. last year, selling to bars, tap rooms and regional and even international distributors.
The competition has gotten so fierce, Druckman said, that it is getting harder for the craft breweries to grow organically. So not only are big beer companies like Constellation buying up craft breweries, but the various craft beers have been buying each other out as well in order to grow.
Druckman said the shift to craft beers is driven in part by branding, ingredients and a greater focus on how the beer is made. Some have an infusion of cucumber, berries or chocolate.
Of course, it often boils down to taste. “The beer is almost taking on the flavor of a meal,” Druckman said.
In addition Druckman, Funky Buddha was represented by Holland & Knight partners Jocelyn West Brittin in Virginia, Bill Sherman in Fort Lauderdale and Michael Newman in San Francisco, and associates Jordan Schneider in Miami and Zachary Pechter in Fort Lauderdale.
Constellation Brands was represented by Nixon Peabody partner Tyler Savage in Rochester.
Craig Farlie, managing director of Fort Lauderdale-based investment banking firm, Farlie Turner & Co., served as the brewery’s financial adviser.
The DLA Piper team representing Wynwood Brewing was led by Miami partner Emil R. Infante and included partner Stefanie Fogel in Boston; Miami associates Karina DuQuesne and Gregory Weigand and Boston associate Margaret Craig, and attorney Ashley Juchawski in Miami. Craft Brew Alliance was represented by Davis Wright Tremaine partner Jesse Lyon and associate Laura Warf in Portland, Oregon.