BY CARLOS FRÍAS
The trend of beer giants buying independent craft brands has come to South Florida.
Oakland Park’s Funky Buddha Brewery, the fastest-growing craft brewery in Florida and started by a pair of South Florida-raised brothers, has been sold. The purchaser: Constellation Brands, the third-largest beer brewer in the United States, which owns brands such as Corona Extra and Modelo Negra. The breweries made the announcement on Thursday. Sale price was not disclosed.
“We chose to partner with Constellation because we saw an alignment in vision and felt they gave us the greatest opportunity for growth and development,” Funky Buddha president and head brewer Ryan Sentz said in a news release. “Constellation and Funky Buddha share a lot of the same ideals and passion for philanthropy, entrepreneurship and the art of craft beer. At the end of the day, we just really like the people we have met within the organization, each of whom share our dedication to making outstanding beer.”
It’s the latest example of large, corporate breweries buying their way into a local market by purchasing a start-up brand. The most-notable example was Anheuser-Busch InBev purchasing Chicago start-up Goose Island Beer for nearly $40 million in 2011, and, last year, Tampa’s Cigar City Brewing sold a controlling interest to the company that owns Oskar Blues Brewery.
This may be good news, however, for craft beer fans outside of Florida. The deal likely means Funky Buddha will be distributed much more widely because the local beer will now have access to a national distribution network. That also was the case when Constellation purchased San Diego’s largest brewery, Ballast Point Brewery, whose beers are now available at restaurants and grocery stores nationwide, for a reported $1 billion. Constellation also owns Clos du Bois and Robert Mondavi wine, and High West whiskey.
Funky Buddha is known for its culinary-inspired beers, fusing wild combinations into brews fans line up to buy at special release parties at their Oakland Park brewery, 1201 NE 38th St. The Maple Bacon Coffee Porter, which tastes like boozy breakfast in a bottle, garnered such wide acclaim that the brewery plans an annual party in celebration. Other beers they brew mimic the flavors of blueberry cobbler and Cuban guava pastelitos.
But it’s the brewery’s core beers, such as the hoppy Hop Gun IPA and Floridian Hefeweizen, that helped the name spread into the mainstream and grocery stores, including Publix and Whole Foods Market.
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