Ninkasi Sells Majority Stake to New Conglomerate

Ninkasi Brewing co-founder Nikos Ridge has been a  vociferous critic of craft breweries selling to corporations like Anheuser-Busch InBev or Miller/Coors. But, it appears that he and Jamie Floyd will be selling a majority stake of their company.

The buyer is Legacy Breweries, which is itself a new venture that plans on acquiring craft brewers across the country in an effort to create craft brew hubs. Legacy is led by Don Bryant, the former head of Washington state-based hop supplier Yakima. Bryant told industry publication Brewhound that Legacy seeks to purchase two more “Ninkasi-sized” breweries in the Midwest and East to establish “brewing hubs.” Legacy would then buy 10 to 15 smaller breweries in those areas, creating better production and packaging capabilities and raw-material access.

Ninkasi Brewing, located in Eugene, is the nation’s 35th largest craft brewery and Oregon’s third-highest selling brewer. Founded by Ridge and Floyd in 2006, Ninkasi shipped more than 90,000 barrels last year.

In a prepared statement, Ridge said, “Ninkasi has discussed numerous partnership opportunities over the years that didn’t quite fit our vision, but with the support of Legacy and EPR, we felt that this was the right opportunity and will help us develop into the next powerful independent craft brewery platform.”

Ridge differentiates the Ninkasi transaction from other such sales, telling the Portland beer-industry blog The New School, “I think selling out to someone that has a vested interest in destroying craft beer and spends 10’s of millions of dollars on a national discussion about how (bad) or not (bad) corn is, is a lot different from a partner who comes in and wants to work with us to build a coalition of craft brewers to leverage the strengths that we’ve built at Ninkasi over the years.”

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. Brewbound reports Legacy having two sources of capital, a family business named Blue Ocean, and EPR Properties, a publicly held real estate investment trust with $6.8 billion worth of investments.