Huddersfield’s Magic Rock Brewing announced today it has been acquired by the Australian conglomerate and Kirin subsidiary, Lion for an undisclosed sum. Lion’s purchase furthers their expansion into the craft beer market following the 2012 acquisition of Australia’s Little Creatures and another UK craft brewer, Fourpure last July.
On the rationale for it:
It will allow us to expand capacity and become a genuine competitor in the UK beer landscape and further afield. We’ll have the benefit of Lion’s experience in growing breweries, and their support and investment to purchase better equipment, install better infrastructure and ultimately produce better beer – in bigger quantity for our customers.
Why they chose to sell to Lion:
While there’s never been a plan to sell the business, we’ve had a number of approaches over the past few years, but none of them felt like a good fit until we started talking with Lion. Lion first approached us back in August 2018 and we were immediately impressed with their ambition, pedigree and approach to beer.
And what it means for the future of Magic Rock:
The only changes we foresee will be for the better. I’m delighted to announce that Lion are committed to beer production in Huddersfield for the long-term and there’ll be no cost-cutting; on the contrary there’ll be an increase in our commitment to the quality and innovation characterises our beers.
Reactions to the news on social media were typically polar, with the “what a sell-out, I’ll never drink a Magic Rock beer again” comments outnumbering the “congratulations! A well deserved reward” brigade.
As with previous craft beer acquisitions from ‘big beer’ I’m going to reserve judgement on whether or not this is good news. I personally feel that selling doesn’t have to mean selling out. If the original founders aren’t looking to ‘take the money and run’ and can forge the right relationship with their new parent company, an acquisition can lead to positive outcomes. Of course those are a couple of big ifs. I should point out though that I’ve never been a hardcore Magic Rock fan, which may make it easier for me to keep emotion out of my reasoning.
The announcement came hot on the heels of the news that Magic Rock beers will be stocked by Tesco as part of a new push into craft beer starting on 1 April.
So another UK craft beer favourite has fallen under the spell of the evil ‘big beer’ or successfully secured the funding and expertise that will see them continue their growth and success depending on your point of view. For now, my congratulations go out to all at Magic Rock Brewing and I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed that the staff only see the benefits of increased investment. As for how Lion’s Magic Rock acquisition affects craft beer, I’ll judge that on the consistency of the quality of the beer going forward.