Heineken Just Bought A 50% Stake In Lagunitas, Which Is Valued At $1 Billion

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HUGE, HUGE beer news this afternoon out of California, home to some of the world’s most delicious IPAs. The Heineken announced that it bought a 50% stake in the Petaluma, California-based Lagunitas Brewing Company, the 4th biggest craft brewer in the United States. If you’re a hophead like me, Lagunitas makes some absolutely delicious beers — I’m a big fan of the Little Sumpin’ Sumpin and the Daytime IPA, along with their widely-distributed regular IPA.

This beer business news shouldn’t come as a huge surprise to anyone who has noticed Lagunitas’ rabid national expansion and distribution over the past few years. They’re literally everywhere. But now Heineken will own 50% and Lagunitas will use the Holland-based beer giant as a major distribution partner. Via The Press Democrat:

Heineken will acquire a 50 percent stake in Lagunitas in exchange for an undisclosed amount of cash and a structure that allows the fast-growing Petaluma brewer to utilize the Amsterdam-based company’s global production and distribution network, founder and owner Tony Magee said.

Here’s the most amazing thing to me about this deal: It puts Lagunitas valuation at $1 billion. That’s INSANELY awesome for thriving craft brewing companies around the world since it sets a precedent. That number is only going to grow too:

Financial terms were not disclosed, but Lagunitas was likely valued at about $1 billion in the deal, according to people familiar with recent acquisitions in the craft beer industry.

The Lagunitas people are PRETTY insistent, however, on noting that this is a partnership and that they aren’t “selling out” to Heineken.

Magee described the agreement with Heineken, a company established in 1864, as a 50-50 partnership. Heineken will have three seats on the Lagunitas board and the Petaluma brewery will retain three seats. Magee, who began the company on his kitchen stove in 1993, will remain chairman. The deal is expected to close in the early fourth quarter.

Magee said the partnership would not change the soul of the 730-employee company or diminish the quality of its beers, which have made Lagunitas the sixth-largest craft brewer in the United States.

Craft beer people get pretty grumpy when a brewery “sells out” to a big beer company like this — Just the other night a bar owner told me about how he wasn’t planning on carrying Elysian’s fall beers since InBev bought the company out. But it’s hard to not appreciate the Lagunitas partnership. Craft brewers just need to lose the attitude about big distribution deals like this happening since craft is becoming more and more mainstream.

Which brewer is the next to go with a big beer deal? Now taking bets…