Widmer, Goose Island Strike Deal

Yes, that means Anheuser-Busch gets a stake in Chicago brewery

he long simmering rumors that Anheuser-Busch is buying a stake in Chicago’s Goose Island Beer Co.:

a) are not true.

b) are true.

c) all of the above.

If you answered c) the you qualify to explain the turn that things took Wednesday when Goose Island and Widmer Brothers Brewing Co. announced a distribution deal that gives Goose Island access to the network of independent wholesalers that distribute Anheuser-Busch beers.

As part of the deal, Widmer will make a minority investment in Goose Island’s Fulton St. brewery and bottling plant. Those discussions aren’t complete and no deadline has been set to finalize them. Goose Island declined to discuss the transaction price or the size of Widmer’s equity stake, only saying Widmer would be a minority investor.

However when Widmer does claim its stake in Goose Island it means that A-B – which owns 39.5% of Widmer – will also get a share of Goose Island. Just not exactly in the way most expected after, last month, the Chicago Tribune reported Busch would buy up to 35% of Goose Island in a deal that would shift Goose Island beer distribution to A-B wholesales.

As part of the Widmer-Goose Island arrangement, Anheuser-Busch will provide logistical support to all A-B wholesalers distributing Goose Island beers.

“Like Goose Island, the Widmers are leaders in craft brewing and share our passion for craft beer,” John Hall, founder and president of Goose Island, stated in a press release. “When it came time to create a partnership, Widmer and Goose Island were a natural fit. Both companies are run by the original family members and share a passion for creating truly remarkable beers.”

Also in the press release, Rob Widmer, one of the found Widmer brothers, said: “We welcome the opportunity to help support continued growth of Goose Island will be able to utilize a distribution system that’s better equipped for the special requirements of quality beers.”


  1. admin says

    Illinois distributor sells rights to Goose and Grolsch for $9.1 million

    Union Beverage of Chicago announced that it has finalized the sale of the distribution rights for Goose Island Beer and Grolsch Beer to the Anheuser-Busch distribution network for the state of Illinois. The final price tag for the two brands was $9.1 million.

    The transfer of the two brands into the A-B network follows the recent purchase of Grolsch by A-B and the acquisition of a portion of Goose Island Beer Co. by Widmer Brothers Brewing Company which is partially owned by A-B.

    The infusion of two specialty brands into the A-B wholesale network is one step forward for the St. Louis brewer, who is attempting to shore up discontent by their distributors facing a decline in both margin and volume. Some industry accounts have stated that the A-B wholesalers were down as much as 20% in profit last year nationally.