There's a lot of chatter coming out of the craft beer world this morning, as the Central Coast California brewery Firestone Walker dropped some serious late-night news. According to a post on their site titled A Lil’ News, the nearly two decade-old craft beer brand announced that they’d be merging with Duvel Moortgat, who already own such luminary craft brands as Boulevard Brewing, Ommegang, Maredsous, La Chouffe, and yes, Duvel.
Per Brewbound, the merger could be worth an estimated $100 million (the rumored cost of their similarly-sized Boulevard purchase from 2013), and means the Duvel brewery group now holds two of the best-performing, top-50 U.S. craft breweries around. Firestone Walker alone is the 16th largest craft brewer in the U.S., according to the Brewers Association, handling just over 200,000 barrels last year.
In a joint statement, the duo says that linking up means that they’ll be better able to collaborate from their various facilities across the world, and will also be able to piggyback on existing infrastructure and technologies to grow and expand.
Calling it an "elegant solution," prominent Firestone Walker co-founder David Walker was quick to note that the merger did not mean the iconic Central Coast brand would need to move or reconfigure itself in any way. "We will continue to operate independently in Paso Robles," the note says, "and there will be no change discernible."
Of course, as Brewhound mentions, this is an industry-wide move that many, including Walker himself, seem to have predicted. In a 2014 speech to brewers and craft beer insiders, Walker noted that the future of the large, but fractured, craft beer industry was going to be one of consolidation. That premonition certainly seems to have come true, at least in this case.
Update: Beer Marketer's Insight now lists the sale somewhere closer to the $250 million range, which would fit with a $1,000 per barrel sales model argued in a recent Wall Street Journal article. The title has been updated to reflect the new rumored sale price.