When a company talks about sex, people listen. Hence the buzz around Heineken’s newest beer, H41, which master brewer Willem van Waesberghe describes as the result of “the sexual tendencies” of yeast.
The friskiness of which van Waesberghe speaks of is the mating of two different types of yeast present in most contemporary lagers. While lager yeast is typically associated with German and Bohemian beers, one of its parent yeasts, called H41, originated in the forests of Patagonia in Argentina.
But back to the sex.
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H41 is described by Heineken as the “mother of all yeasts.” Typically, yeasts reproduce by creating direct clones of themselves. Under stressful environmental conditions, however, yeast can reproduce sexually, which can create hybrids. The traditional lager yeast used by Heineken and around Europe is one such hybrid. The H41 yeast, on the other hand, is one of the two parent yeasts that spawned Heineken’s house yeast. It has been parenting Heineken’s lager yeast for 130 years.
H41 is currently available in Europe and New York, with plans for a wider U.S. rollout in 2018.
Boston Beer Company Won’t Sell Out
This week, the financial services company Credit Suisse upgraded the stock of Boston Beer Company from underperform to neutral. Which in itself isn’t much news, until we consider what analyst Laurent Grandet wrote:
“Although founder Jim Koch seems determined to turn the business around, we think the likelihood of a takeout goes higher if Samuel Adams rejuvenation efforts ultimately fail next year.”
What Grandet is suggesting is that the largest craft brewing company in the world and one of the founders of the modern craft beer movement should put itself up for sale to a brewing corporation. The mere hint of a Boston Beer buyout rose the company’s troubled stock price. No matter how craft-y a brand is, money talks.
But the chances of Boston Beer selling while Koch is in charge are slim to none.
In a piece titled “Why Boston Beer Company Should Sell to Molson Coors for Billions of Dollars,” Jason Notte of The Street explains why Molson Coors is just about the only potential buyer. First off, Boston Beer is big money with a market cap at around $2 billion, and nearly all of the players bigger than Boston Beer aren’t looking for that big of a move. AB InBev recently announced that it’s done with acquisitions, Heineken hasn’t expressed much interest in new breweries since it bought Lagunitas, and Constellation Brands hinted that it isn’t looking to spend another billion or two on a brewery after spending $1 billion on the much smaller Ballast Point in 2015.
That leaves Molson Coors, which recently paid $12 billion to AB InBev to sell the Miller brands. Given Koch’s history, Molson Coors seems an unlikely bedfellow. Koch publicly disputed with Molson Coors executives about the definition of craft, and MillerCoors dedicated a blog post to trashing Koch after Koch took out an op-ed in the New York Times that blamed big beer companies for killing craft.
Speculation-wise, of course, nothing is off the table. Even if all of Boston Beer company doesn’t sell, it could sell off some assets like Coney Island, Angry Orchard, and Twisted Tea, all of which it runs under its Alchemy & Science division.
But a full sell out? Not while Koch’s in charge. I don’t care how many New York Times op-eds he writes about the death of craft beer.
Speaking of buyouts …
They’re everywhere. Who owns what is a hot topic that’s constantly evolving. The Brewers Association recently attempted to combat confusion by launching an independent seal, though the jury is still out on its effectiveness. (I have an opinion.) And although buyouts and partial sales have been getting more attention recently, they’ve been happening for decades.
VinePair has created the most comprehensive craft beer investment timeline yet. Starting in 1988 with Miller’s purchase of Jacob Leinenkugel, we map out more than 70 purchases and investments by major beer corporations and private equity companies. It’s a doozy. I hope you’ll give it a read and let us know what you think.