Friday Night Beer Blog

Happy Friday beer fans!

As I’ve said before, Sightlines might be the best source out there for in-depth reporting on the brewing industry, like this story from a couple months ago: Lost Dog — Lagunitas Tries to Find Itself After Leadership Turnover, Sales Slumps. As with so many craft brewers acquired by big competitors, the deal was great for the founders selling out, and less great for the future of their brewery. Lagunitas has mostly struggled since selling out to Heineken in 2017.

Though its flagship IPA is the best-selling draft brand of the style in the U.S. and also a top-5 IPA in chain retail, Lagunitas Brewing’s last three years have seen the pioneering craft brewery struggle to find its way. Since 2021, the Petaluma, California-based company has seen declining sales, layoffs, vacant sales leadership roles, and two packaging rebrands.

Former employees say this reality is a result of cultural friction between corporate parent Heineken International, which wholly acquired Lagunitas for reportedly close to $1 billion in 2017, and the existing organization. Prior to the sale, Lagunitas was led by founder Tony Magee, who Chicago Magazine once labeled “a stoner savant.” Under his guidance, the brewery grew into one of the most successful craft brands in the country while embracing a countercultural spirit—and plenty of cannabis references.

Today, Lagunitas executives say they want to regain the Magee-led ideals that once defined the brand, but that attitude was a direct reflection of the company’s founder. Today, it’s longtime Heineken employees who are calling the shots, not a “dropout pothead.”

The suits from Amsterdam have parachuted in to take over one of NorCal’s most countercultural breweries, with predictable results.

Some say Heineken’s corporate ownership has been to the brand’s detriment. Another longtime former sales employee—who still works in the industry and asked not to be named so as not to hinder future job prospects—says Heineken didn’t seem to respect the experience that existing Lagunitas employees had in building the brand. This former employee, who left last year, says Heineken thought longtime Lagunitas staff were “a liability and not an asset and that they should get rid of them.”

It’s a great article with lots more detail. My own career includes being acquired, so I’ve lived some similar situations.

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Faction beer is from Alameda CA and you might be able to find it at Total Wine. I like the Pale Ale, it’s pleasantly light bodied with a moderate hop flavor. It seems like some brewers don’t want to bother with anything lighter than IPA, but as a consumer I want that option. 

I finished the Faction a couple days ago actually, what I have right now is Weihenstephan hefeweizen. Next up is something from SN, maybe Tropical Little Thing.

What are you drinking? Anyone brewing?


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