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Kirin Makes Minority Equity Investment in Brooklyn Brewery

Beer Business Daily:

“Earlier today in Japan, we announced that Kirin Brewery will be making a minority equity investment in Brooklyn Brewery,” Brooklyn’s Robin Ottaway announced today on their blog. “This investment allows Steve, Garrett Oliver, Eric and me to achieve our #1 goal- to remain an independent owned and operated brewery (as defined by the Brewers Association).”

Brooklyn, the 12th largest craft brewer in the US, sold a 24.5% stake to Japan’s Kirin Holdings Co., reports the Wall Street Journal. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. First Beverage worked on it.

Back to the blog: Robin promised that he and brother Eric would continue to operate the brewery for “many years to come.”

WHY A DEAL? What’ll they do with the money? Specifically, “we intend to continue our global expansion and affirm our position as a leading global craft brewer,” Robin said. “While keeping our current brewery in Williamsburg, we are building our new global headquarters in the Brooklyn Navy Yard with a 600-person capacity rooftop beer garden. We intend to build another bigger brewery that will enable us to brew 100% of the beer we sell domestically in-house.”

They also intend to build on a strategy that takes Brooklyn Brewery to a fully national brand with a top-class sales and marketing team supporting our distributors.” And they are “busy developing our vision for a Brooklyn bar, initially aimed to be located overseas.”

As we’ve reported before, exports are about half of Brooklyn’s business, and should be the majority in the next few years.

EXPOSITION. They’ve been selling beer in Japan since ’88: It was their first export market.

“Kirin has become a leading global brewer because of their focus on quality, world-class R&D capabilities, and an ability to partner effectively. In 2014, they took a minority stake in Yo-Ho Brewing, Japan’s leading craft brewery.” That made it clear to them that “Kirin understood and respected craft beer and the way it could elevate all beer.”

The U.S. craft brewing scene has seen strategic deals with Belgian brewers, Spanish brewers, and even Dutch brewers, but this marks the first time money is flowing in from Japan (that we know of).

Japanese brewers have been hinting at acquisitions in growing markets overseas amid declining beer sales at home (Japan’s beer shipments fell from 573 cases in 1994 to about 425 million cases in 2015, according to the Brewers Association of Japan).