Announcing the news on its website, Brixton described the deal as an “exciting partnership” that would enable it to move to a new 15,000sq ft site about half a mile from its current premises, and insisted the brewery’s founders would “continue to manage the business and guide its future”.
“We know we want to grow, and to be at the forefront of the brewing industry, and of our family business,” the brewer said. “We want to be in the brewery every day, working alongside our extraordinary, hilarious, creative and talented team. We also know we want to remain in Brixton, this fantastically eclectic place that has inspired and nurtured us, and given us the names and characters of many of our popular beers."
The statement continued: “These days, industrial space in central London is the rarest of commodities. To expand, most businesses are forced to move production to the outskirts. For us, this was unthinkable and having missed out on a unit up Brixton Hill earlier in the year, we couldn’t believe our luck when we found the perfect, albeit much larger space just 600 metres from our current brewery.”
The brewery hopes to move to its new site, which it estimates could increase brewing capacity from 12,000 to 60,000 pints a week, by spring 2018.
Explaining the decision to sell a minority stake to Heineken, Brixton said: “To realise this unique and ambitious chance to grow in our home, we needed serious investment. It was with pretty much perfect timing that we were contacted by Heineken UK. They had noticed us, liked what we were doing and wanted to see if we could work together somehow."
Brixton Brewery explained: “We invited some of the Heineken team for a brew day and were impressed by their knowledge, passion and insight. We got to know them slowly, felt that we had common ground, and built a relationship of mutual trust and respect.
“We were delighted that they believed in our vision too. They wanted to support us through investment in the new brewery and, eventually, through helping us get our beers out there to be enjoyed by more people.”
The exact percentage of the business that will be owned by Heineken, and the value of the deal has not been disclosed.
Speaking to The Morning Advertiser's sister site MCA, Heineken UK insisted that Brixton will remain an independent business, and said the company were not looking to make a swathe of investments in craft brewers.
A spokesperson for Heineken UK said: “We’re honoured to partner with Brixton Brewery on the next step of their exciting journey. The brewery is already known for beautiful beers, brewed in the heart of Brixton. Our partnership allows them to stay rooted in the community while building a new brewery to meet the huge demand for their beers.
"We believe in the founders and their vision for the business. By investing in a minority stake we provide the investment they require to grow, while ensuring they retain full control, running Brixton Brewery as an independent business. Over time our partnership will help Brixton Brewery bring their great beers to more people across London and beyond while complementing Heineken’s existing portfolio.”
On the potential for further acquisitions, they added: “At the moment, we have no further plans. We have found the perfect London brewer to partner with and we look forward to seeing the founders vision come to fruition. Brixton Brewery is an exciting, young and already successful brewery requiring support to make the next step on their journey.
"We see this as a sound long term investment for the future in a business with real growth potential, strong brands and great beers that people love.”
Meanwhile, the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) told MCA there need to be greater clarity over which craft brewers are truly independent.
SIBA chief executive Mike Benner told MCA: “Increasingly global beer companies such as Heineken are seeking to buyout or invest-in previously independent craft breweries. The issue is that these investments also seek to capture customer bases and brand values which were built on the back of the brewery being relatively small, independent and brewing quality, flavoursome beer.
“Consumers deserve to know that what they are buying and SIBA want to see far greater clarity in the market place with truly independent craft breweries given the prominence they deserve. Our Assured Independent British Craft Brewer campaign highlights truly independent craft breweries and the beers they brew with a bold seal. It’s a simple accreditation which can be instantly recognised by beer drinkers on bottles or cans on supermarket shelves or on pump clips at the bar.”
In July of this year, Carlsberg UK bought Hackney-based London Fields Brewery in a joint venture with Brooklyn Brewery.