Firestone to Duvel

Craft Beer California


The Interwebs nearly broke a week ago when news of the sale of Firestone Walker Brewing Co. to Duvel Moortgat was announced.

The night of the press release, I e-mailed David Walker a few questions about the business collaboration.

Sean Inman – Will this partnership be primarily for financing purposes or will there be brewing done at other Duvel USA locales?

David Walker – Both of these hopefully.

SI – I assume that a Duvel – Firestone Walker collaboration beer is in the works?

DW – Chehello!

SI – When did the process of finding a partner begin and were any other suitors met with?

DW – We started by trying to solve our capacity problems and this led to looking at a partner. It’s been a 2-year journey to arrive at this point. We think worth the wait.

SI – Do you expect blowback from the craft beer people who are worried about consolidation?

DW – We have always let our beer do the talking.

From the other side of the aisle, Duvel Moortgat USA President Simon Thorpe, came this statement: “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.” Thorpe added, “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.”

For Duvel that previous experience entrenched on our shores with the aforementioned breweries makes this acquisition different right from the start. Factor in that this deal is between two well-respected breweries and not between another (much larger and less liked Belgian based brewery who brews the hard way minus peaches, pumpkins and watermelons) and it looks more and more like a win-win. Duvel gets a presence in the huge California market and Firestone Walker gets assistance with their growth plans.

If you only look at this deal from the standpoint of bigger is bad then you will probably become increasingly upset in the coming years. Money has never been easy to come by for the brewing industry. Pair that with the fact that it is also very equipment and ingredient cost intensive, leading people to look farther afield for financing. Financial collaborations may well become more popular than brewing collaborations.

The Beer of the Week comes from the vast stash of barrels in Paso Robles and is either classified as an Imperial Blonde ale or a Blonde Barley Wine. Helldorado (with El Dorado hops of course) may be the lightest color of anything in the Firestone Walker barrel program, but still imparts loads of flavors such as “vanilla, light char and amazing lavender-honey notes.”

Your Homework this week is get in on the fun that is the DTLA Beer Crawl. Here is one reason why this event from the Beer Chicks and the 213 Group stands out: You get to discuss with friends the beers you had at the last stop or argue about which beer to get at the next stop or pause and chat with other craft beer fans walking down the street. It is a very convivial beer event plus you get some exercise in-between fantastic beers.

Find more of Sean Inman’s writing on his blog, Beer Search Party.

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Sean Inman

Find more of Sean Inman’s writing on his blog, Beer Search Party.

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