Constellation Brands to Sell Ballast Point

Company cites changing craft-beer trends as reason for sale
Photograph courtesy of Kings & Convicts Brewing Co.

VICTOR, N.Y. — Amid what it calls changing trends in craft beer, Constellation Brands Inc. is selling its Ballast Point brand to a Chicago-area craft brewery.

Highwood, Ill.-based Kings & Convicts Brewing Co., which brews ales and lagers out of its 5,000-square-foot taproom on the North Shore of Chicago, will acquire the Ballast Point brand and its associated production facilities and brewpubs, excluding a production brewery in Daleville, Va.

Financial terms of the deal, which is expected to close by the end of the year, were not disclosed.

Ballast Point was one of the fastest-growing and most well-established craft beer brands in the country when Constellation Brands acquired it in 2015, according to a statement from Michael McGrew, senior vice president of corporate communications and CSR for Constellation.

Consumer trends shifted as the number of craft-beer brands in the market increased and most of the growth in the segment was driven by local brands, McGrew said. Constellation’s goal is to lead in the high-end U.S. beer segment, which includes beer priced at $25 per case and up.

“Trends in the U.S. craft-beer segment have shifted dramatically since our acquisition of Ballast Point,” said Bill Newlands, Constellation Brands' president and CEO. “This decision allows Constellation to focus more fully on maximizing growth for our high-performing import portfolio and upcoming new-product introductions, including Corona Hard Seltzer, scheduled to launch this spring.”

Victor, N.Y.-based Constellation Brands—a producer and marketer of beer brands such as Corona, Modelo and Pacifico—said its imported beers continue to grow “at a very strong rate.” The company is focused on growing its remaining craft beers, Funky Buddha and Four Corners, in their core markets, McGrew said.

San Diego-based Ballast Point’s volume is expected to surpass 200,000 barrels in 2019 and is available in all 50 states and internationally, according to Kings & Convicts, which started in 2017. Ballast Point has six breweries in California and Chicago. Kings & Convicts will retain all positions within Ballast Point’s workforce, which consists of about 560 employees, and it plans to hire more people to support the growth of the business.

“We’re excited to welcome the team at Ballast Point into the Kings & Convicts family,” said Brendan Watters, Kings & Convicts’ CEO. “We have long admired the quality and spirit of Ballast Point’s brands and team. Ballast Point’s best-in-class brewing standards will remain unchanged, delivering the same high-quality, award-winning products the company has become known for over the years. Our goal is to leverage Ballast Point’s deep know-how, talented and passionate employee base, and outstanding operating team to grow both Ballast Point and Kings & Convicts together.”

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