Sunday, May 19, 2013

Free to live the dream! Dominion Brewing Company.

On this last day of American Craft Beer Week 2013, there's good beer news to report from the Mid-Atlantic area.

Yours For Good Fermentables has learned from a reliable source that Dover, Delaware-based Dominion and Fordham Brewing Companies have obtained release from their Master Distribution Agreement with Anheuser-Busch InBev.

In 2007, When Dominion was purchased by Bill Muehlhauser of Fordham Brewery, with others, a distribution alliance was formed with the then Anheuser-Busch, which itself took a forty-nine percent ownership stake in the resultant company. Coastal Brewing, as it was called, was, in reality, an expression of the situation, rather than a beer brand. One never found Coastal beers on the shelves or on tap, but Fordham and Dominion.

A year later, AB would become Anheuser-Busch InBev. Preoccupied with its own big merger, the conglomerate became relatively hands-off toward day-to-day operations at Dominion/Fordham. Except for one major stipulation. Whenever Dominion and Fordham wished to expand distribution into new markets, ABIB had to sign off on that, which would be, of course, only to approved, existing AB wholesalers.

With this mutually-agreed abrogation of the Master Distribution Agreement, Dominion/Fordham is now free to choose those wholesalers it wishes, as it expands into new markets. According to Brewers Association statistics, Dominion/Fordham increased production/sales by 11% in 2011 and by 12% last year, to over 23,000 barrels.

And, here's the really big news, appropriate to American Craft Beer Week.

Since the initial deal in 2007, AB has reduced its ownership share to 37%. It may be on its way to selling back its entire stake. Lawyers must dot the i's and cross the t's, but, if so, the Coastal thing will be no more; Dominion/Fordham will be 100% independent, 100% free to live the (its own) dream. Small, independent, and traditional: an American craft beer company. Congratulations!

I relied upon a source I trust to write this post, but, as in such things, let's wait for official word from the parties involved for confirmation.

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