New Belgium Brewing, Elysian Founder Dick Cantwell and Oud Beersel have announced a partnership to purchase the assets of San Francisco’s iconic Magnolia Brewing as part of bankruptcy proceeding — and they have big plans for what happens next.
First, let’s talk about the agreement. According to a press release, the partnership will operate both of Magnolia’s locations — one on Haight Street and one in Dogpatch. The group stresses it’s approaching the sale as “brewing with friends,” and their intention is “not to turn Magnolia’s Haight Street and Dogpatch locations into New Belgium brewpubs.
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It’s a fascinating announcement on many levels (especially on a day that began with the news that Constellation Brands, the company that owns beer brands including Ballast Point and Corona, has acquired Florida’s Funky Buddha Brewing).
For one, Magnolia will be Cantwell’s return to brewing after leaving Elysian, the Seattle brewery he founded, that was eventually purchased by Anheuser-Busch in 2015. Cantwell, a staunch supporter of small and independent brewers, resigned from the brewery he helped co-found after the purchase.
“I’m tremendously excited to be back in the beer business,” he says in the release.
Oud Beersel, who produces Belgian lambic beers, is called a “contributing experimenter” in the new venture. The idea is they’ll eventually ship their traditional lambics to be blended with Magnolia beers. That’s a big deal because, in order to be called “lambic,” the beer must be produced in Belgium (among other requirements). By shipping lambic to San Francisco, the partnership says they’re establishing “the world’s first dedicated lambic blendery outside of Belgium.”
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New Belgium Brewing Co-founder and Executive Chair Kim Jordan says the brewpub carries personal meaning.
“These two tap rooms are right in the heart of historic San Francisco neighborhoods, a place Dick (Cantwell) and I call home. Magnolia makes excellent beer and plays an important role in the community. We’re excited about the possibilities and look forward to continuing our journey while honoring Magnolia’s history and presence,” she explains.
Magnolia began in San Francisco in 1997. In 2014, owner Dave McLean also opened Smokestack, a barbecue restaurant attached to a 30-barrel production brewery, in the Dogpatch neighborhood. In November 2015, the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection after construction delays with Smokestack and slower than anticipated development in the neighborhood.
“I’m incredibly grateful for this opportunity to see Magnolia start a new chapter,” McLean says.
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