One of Michigan’s most popular and prolific craft breweries Short’s Brewing Company announced today that it is partnering with California’s Lagunitas Brewing Company. Lagunitas now holds a 19.99 percent equity stake in the company, according to a release.
CEO Joe Short and partner Scott Newman-Bale revealed the decision in a video shared with followers on the brewery’s social media accounts this morning. “The reason we did it is when we met with these folk they’re just very much like us; we had a great time and they wanted us to continue doing what we’re doing without control,” Newman-Bale says.
“Never would I have imagined in 14 years we would have built Short’s to what it is today,” Joe Short says. “Now we’re at the next phase of our evolution.” Per the release, Short’s will continue to maintain its brand’s image “while gaining additional resources for continued opportunity to invest in Short’s staff.”
Craft beer fans are often skeptical of new partnerships. Many commenters expressed disappointment in response to Short’s announcement, pointing to the fact that Lagunitas — the U.S. 9th largest brewer — was bought out by major global beer conglomerate Heineken International earlier this year.
So is Short’s still considered a craft brewery? According to the Brewers Association, craft breweries are defined as a brewery with an “annual production of 6 million barrels of beer or less” where “less that 25 percent of the craft brewery is owned or controlled by an alcohol industry member that is not itself a craft brewer.” Craft brewers also must produce mainly beers rather than flavored malt beverages.
Since, Short’s only sold a 19.99 percent stake in the business, it’s still technically a designated craft brewery though advocates for small breweries that are being more and more frequently bought up by massive companies like AB-InBev may not see it that way.