BEER WITH A SOCIALIST: Kings & Convicts, Ballast Point, and beer writer Josh Noel’s excellent analysis.


Once upon a time, Ballast Point Brewing was purchased by Constellation Brands for a cool billion, and now the latter has unloaded its costly toy for considerably less, although the exact figure has yet to be released.

The beneficiary of the fire sale is a two-year-old Chicago brewery called Kings & Convicts — and no, I’d never heard of it prior to the recent headlines.

The Chicago Tribune’s Josh Noel explores the Ballast Point deal at greater length here: Unlikely Ballast Point brewery sale executed with help of unidentified wine industry magnate.

How very tiring.

Noel is a fine beer writer. Check him out on Twitter and at his web site, and enjoy this commentary about all that money.

Ranking the craft brewery sales that have made us say UH HOLY WHAT THE F***, by Josh Noel

I was finishing a deadline article for the Chicago Tribune Tuesday afternoon when an email arrived from someone who also writes about the beer industry. The subject line: “who the heck is king’s and convicts?”

I opened the email. It said: “no. but really….”

I hadn’t heard the news yet, and wondered why this person was asking about a tiny suburban Chicago brewery that’s so tiny, most Chicagoans haven’t even heard of it. Moments later, a press release popped up in my email. It said that the tiny brewery had bought the iconic Ballast Point Brewing.

I hammered out a reply to that fellow journalist: “UH HOLY WHAT THE F***”

(Yes, it was all caps, and no, there were no asterisks.)

His response: “precisely this.”

All this is to say, during this fevered era of brewery acquisitions that began with Goose Island’s sale to Anheuser-Busch in 2011, there have been dozens of deals. Some have caused barely a flutter: Revolver Brewing selling to MillerCoors, Karbach Brewing selling to Anheuser-Busch and Three Weavers Brewing selling to Canarchy elicited mostly shrugs beyond their home markets.

Others have changed the industry. They have made our jaws drop. They have made us say, UH HOLY WHAT THE F***.

But the most stunning deals haven’t all possessed equal UH HOLY WHAT THE F***NESS (yes, now an official craft beer industry term). Here are the Top 10 most UH HOLY WHAT THE F*** craft brewery acquisitions since Goose Island’s sale, ranked in terms of UH HOLY WHAT THE F***NESS …