Ending months of speculation about a sale to Anheuser-Busch InBev, Cigar City Brewing told Brewbound this morning that the Tampa, Florida-based brewery will sell a controlling stake to private equity firm Fireman Capital. Also this morning, Colorado-based Oskar Blues Brewing Company sent out its own press release whose first line reads: “Oskar Blues Brewery announced the acquisition of Tampa’s Cigar City Brewing.” So wait, did Cigar City sell to Fireman Capital or to Oskar Blues?
This gets a little financially technical, so hang with us: When Oskar Blues wanted to acquire Michigan’s Perrin Brewing Co., which it did a year ago, it needed some funding. So it turned to private equity firm Fireman Capital and created United Craft Brews, a holding company which receives funding from Fireman Capital and whose board is made up of members from Fireman as well as Dale Kachetis of Oskar Blues and Keith Klopcic of Perrin. United Craft Brews also included the Utah Brewers Cooperative (Wasatch and Squatters breweries), which Fireman Capital had invested in.
When Kachetis and Klopcic gained equity and board member status, the name of the holding company changed to Oskar Blues Holding Company, according to Chad Melis, marketing director at Oskar Blues. Now that Oskar Blues Holding Company has acquired Cigar City Brewing, Cigar City’s founder and CEO Joey Redner is a member of this joint board and is vested in the holding company. So to hear Oskar Blues tell it, a joint holding company that Oskar Blues is a large part of acquired Cigar City, not just a faceless private equity firm.
An interesting wrinkle in the story, which Brewbound details: Cigar City had contemplated selling to Anheuser-Busch InBev, even inking a letter of intent, but the deal eventually fell through and Cigar City later chose to sell to Fireman.
“I was almost at the altar with someone else, but it never felt 100 percent right,” Cigar City founder and CEO Joey Redner told Brewbound. “It was a potentially life-changing opportunity and ultimately, I thought that I wasn’t going to be happy. No amount of money was going to make me happy.”
DRAFT asked Redner to confirm the Brewbound article, which he did, adding that he can’t speak to an expansion of Cigar City’s footprint but will “discuss the possibilities in the coming days and months.” So, Jai Alai and Hunaphu for all? Stay tuned.
Editor’s note: This post has been updated to reflect comments from Oskar Blues Brewery.