In a blog post on its website, Beavertown revealed that it had accepted an offer by Heineken to invest an undisclosed figure in the craft brewer to help it build a state-of-the-art £40m brewery and visitor experience, which will open in autumn 2019.
The new 125,000sq ft site will feature a fully automated 150hl brewhouse and will have a total on-site capacity of 450,000hl. It will be within the M25 and is scheduled to create around 150 jobs, the brewery stated. The existing Beavertown production facility in Tottenham Hale will remain and will be used for brewing special releases and seasonal beers, and continue to house the Tempus mixed-fermentation and barrel-ageing project.
The brewery's founder, Logan Plant (the son of Led Zeppelin singer Robert) and his wife will remain majority shareholders in the business, and the exact stake that has been sold to Heineken has not been revealed.
Writing on the brewery's website, Plant said: "Beavertown will be the same as we always were, and we will continue to forge our own path together as Team Beaver. We retain the freedom to do our own thing. The relationships with our accounts, distributors, suppliers and brewing family and friends stays exactly the same. Who we work with and how we work with them stays exactly the same.
"I can’t stress enough how imperative this has been to us throughout the process. Heineken do not want us to conform or change. They love what we do and want us to do more of it. That support gives us the opportunity to maximise what we do best and support our partners and team along the way to achieve and grow together. The only change will be the building of Beaverworld, hopefully with completion and beer flowing by late 2019."
Our view - A crafty scalp from Heineken
This is undoubtedly the highest profile investment by ‘big beer’ since Camden sold 100% of its business to AB InBev in December 2015, and is another sign that craft beer is very much here to stay. Despite being widely rumoured for some time, the announcement still sent shock waves across social media today, partly due to Logan Plant’s previous denials that he had any intention of selling.
The Heineken investment is likely to rapidly speed up Beavertown’s already rapid growth trajectory and enable the north London brewery to complete the build of its new brewery and visitor experience 'Beaverworld'. Whether or not craft beer drinkers, notoriously hostile to multinational brewers, will still wish to visit the new site following the Heineken investment, remains to be seen.
Beavertown’s announcement of the deal reads like the classic small brewery sells to a big brewery tale. Proclamations that the global brewer will have little influence over decisions at the smaller party, and that the recipes won’t change, as well as the labelling of the deal as a 'partnership', may not be enough to placate beer fans angered by the deal. The future of the brewery’s Extravaganza festival is also now under scrutiny, with several high-profile brewers - including The Veil and Cloudwater - already announcing their intention to pull out of the event.
From Heineken’s perspective, the deal is a second major foray into craft beer, after the acquisition of 49% of Brixton Brewery last year. With all due respect to Brixton, however, the Beavertown deal appears to be a more lucrative prospect, which is reflected in the scale of the plan’s for the north London brewery’s new site. Beavertown is seeking to rival Camden and Fuller’s for the title of London’s biggest brewery, and this investment is a reflection of Heineken’s belief that the brewery has the potential to make that ambition a reality.
Plant has also indicated that, if requested, Heineken would be willing to provide Beavertown with avenues to market via its UK distribution network and 3,000-strong pub network (Star Pubs & Bars). For these licensees, the prospect of being able to stock popular beers such as Gamma Ray and Neck Oil is likely to be an exciting one, regardless of the brewery’s now multiple ownership.
Independent global brewer
Plant continued: "Heineken is a proud, independent global brewer but it also remains a family brewer. That family connection means they take a long-term view, which Bridget and I value. From the family through to every person I’ve met in the company, the passion for quality has been paramount. It’s been front and centre of all our discussions and why I’m confident the partnership will give us the ability to make our beers even better."
Rumours about a possible bid by Heineken had been circling for some time, with The Morning Advertiser’s sister site MCA reporting that the two companies were in talks over a deal for a 49% stake in the Tottenham-based brewery.
Last month it was revealed that Beavertown was to open and operate a microbrewery in Tottenham Hotspur’s new football ground, the official beer partner of which is Heineken. It has also recently outsourced some of its brewing operations to Belgium to meet demand for its core beers.