Maybe it’s because football season is still a few months away, but Minnesota and Wisconsin seem to be getting along better this summer, at least in the beer world. On Monday, Lucid Brewing announced the purchase of Hudson’s American Sky Brewing.
The acquisition is a “friendly agreement,” according to a press release, and both brands will continue with relatively few changes. American Sky owners Greg and Molly Harris, who opened the Hudson brewery in 2012, were operating the brewery and taproom while maintaining day jobs. A recent promotion gave them the hard choice between brewing beer for a living and following other advancement opportunities.
Industry-wide, the commercial acquisition of breweries has been gaining momentum, especially among the big brewers. Anheuser-Busch purchased Elysian Brewing Company earlier this year and also owns Goose Island and 10 Barrel Brewing, among others. However, local breweries are not concerned about consolidation of the fast growing microbrewery market. “It was pretty unique circumstances that led to this deal,” says Lucid co-founder Jon Messier.
“I do believe we will see more brewery openings along with more brewery mergers,” says Tod Fyten, President of the Fytenburg Family Breweries (Stagecoach, St. Croix and Fytenburg Breweries) but, “Mergers is the operative word, not consolidations,” he stresses. “Our market is growing, not contracting, and I do not see that changing for some time.”
Instead, mergers will happen when it benefits both parties. Bent Brewstillery in Roseville, who merged with Pour Decisions at the start of 2014, agrees. “From the outside looking in and drawing parallels to our experience, it’s a great business move to combine two smaller companies into one larger one," says Bent owner Bartley Blume.
Lucid is one of few metro area breweries that does not have a taproom, though they have hinted that one may be in development. The brewery will continue to operate in Minnetonka. American Sky will brew in The Hangar, their aviation-themed taproom located in Hudson behind Fleet Farm, but bottling operations will move to Minnetonka. Eventually, American Sky beers will be sold in the Twin Cities market in addition to western Wisconsin.