Anheuser-Busch, the US wing of a global brewing giant, announced Friday morning it has acquired Elysian Brewing including the Seattle-based company’s E Pike brewery and pub.
Opened in 1996, Elysian’s Capitol Hill pub and brewery was the company’s first location. The brewery was founded by Dick Cantwell, Joe Bisacca and David Buhler.
The E Pike Elysian celebrated its 15th anniversary in 2011 with with 15 favorite beers. At the time, Cantwell provided some history about this much-loved brewery:
It took us about two years to plan, write the business plan, raise the money, etc. We opened a week late and $3000 over budget. I had been brewing at Big Time–we brought a lot of their old staff over–and before that at Pike Place–Fal, their head brewer rode his motorcycle inside the day we opened. I also worked at a place on lower Queen Anne–Duwamps Cafe, before that. We opened with one of our beers–The Wise ESB–a little fruity because of a warm fermentation–and filled out the taps with beers from every brewery that any of us had had anything to do with in the past. We raced Pike to brew first, since they were opening their new place in the Market South Arcade. After a year-plus of going neck and neck, we beat them by an hour.
Elysian has not yet announced any financial details of the transaction or planned changes for its E Pike facility. In 2011, Anheuser-Busch acquired Chicago’s Goose Island and its approximately 130,000 to 150,000 annual barrel capacity for $38.8 million. In 2014, it bought New York’s Blue Point for somewhere between $18 million to $24 million. Blue Point’s 60,000 barrel capacity is in the same ballpark as Elysian’s annual output.
Elysian is currently distributed in at least 10 states and has collaborated with large brewing companies like New Belgium in the past.
“Throughout our journey we’ve been focused on brewing a portfolio of both classic and groundbreaking beers and supporting innovation and camaraderie in the beer industry through collaboration and experimentation,” Cantwell is quoted as saying in the Anheuser-Busch announcement. “By joining with Anheuser-Busch we’ll be able to take the next steps to bring that energy and commitment to a larger audience.”
The deal puts the only major producer of beer on Capitol Hill in the hands of a massive beverage conglomerate. Smaller brewing efforts are in the works including the ambitious Optimism Brewing project transforming an auto row era showroom at Broadway and Union into a brewery and taproom. That project is gunning for a late 2015 opening. Meanwhile, on the other end of the size spectrum, tiny Outer Planet will debut its Hill-made brews in coming weeks (days?) on 12th Ave. In smaller big beer news, national beer chain World of Beer recently let its Capitol Hill location go indie as 500 East.
UPDATE: Some of Elysian’s more vocal employees aren’t taking the news well:
Employees are shocked by announcement including myself. Thanks for everyones support. Many good people here at Elysian.
— elysianmattt (@elysianmatt) January 23, 2015
I feel sick to my stomach. I never saw this coming…I'm sorry guys.
— Derting (@ElysianDerting) January 23, 2015
Meanwhile, Anheuser-Bush won’t be the only global player operating a production facility in the neighborhood. Starbucks opened its $30 million-plus Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room at Melrose and Pike in December.
Anheuser-Busch is part of InBev, “a Belgian-Brazilian multinational beverage and brewing company headquartered in Leuven, Belgium.” As the world’s “largest brewer,” it reportedly holds a 25% share of the global beer market.
Last fall, Anheuser-Busch and InBev acquired Bend, Oregon’s 10 Barrel Brewing Co.. “Anheuser-Busch InBev has no intention of lowering quality,” this industry analysis of the deal concluded. “It wants to enter the craft beer segment with the kinds of products people are already scrambling to buy.” 10 Barrel continues to operate pubs in Bend, Portland and Boise.
Here are AB InBev’s “Local Champion Brands” —
Anheuser-Busch’s announcement of the acquisition is below:
Seattle-based brewery and four brewpubs to be included in acquisition
St. LOUIS and SEATTLE (January 23, 2015) – Anheuser-Busch today announced it has agreed to purchase Elysian Brewing Company, based in Seattle, Washington. For nearly 20 years, Elysian has brewed an award-winning portfolio of beers, including Immortal IPA and some of the industry’s most innovative and sophisticated brands.
“For two decades, we’ve welcomed guests into our brewpubs and served them creative and impeccably crafted beers,” said Joe Bisacca, Elysian CEO and co-founder, who will continue with Elysian along with his partners, Dick Cantwell and David Buhler. “After a lot of hard work, we’ve grown from one Seattle brewpub to four pub locations and a production brewery. With the support of Anheuser-Busch, we will build on past successes and share our beers with more beer lovers moving forward.”
Dick Cantwell, Elysian co-founder and Head Brewer added, “Throughout our journey we’ve been focused on brewing a portfolio of both classic and groundbreaking beers and supporting innovation and camaraderie in the beer industry through collaboration and experimentation. By joining with Anheuser-Busch we’ll be able to take the next steps to bring that energy and commitment to a larger audience.”
Elysian sold more than 50,000 barrels of beer in 2014, with Immortal IPA accounting for more than a quarter of the company’s total volume.
“Elysian’s story includes everything we look for in a partner,” said Andy Goeler, CEO, Craft, Anheuser-Busch. “The team has spent their careers brewing distinctive beers in the thriving West Coast beer community and building unique venues that celebrate beer. As the fastest growing brewer in Washington, their recipe is working. Elysian’s brands are an important addition to our high-end beer portfolio, and we look forward to working together.”
Anheuser-Busch’s purchase of Elysian is expected to close by the end of the first quarter of 2015. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
— Craft Beer Monger (@CraftBeerMonger) January 23, 2015