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August 11, 2010

Magic Hat Sale is Official

Magic-hat The rumors were true! North American Breweries — maker of Genesee beer and distributor of Labatt — has acquired Independent Brewers United, which includes Magic Hat Brewing Company, Pyramid and MacTarahan’s.

The text of the official press release is below:


North American Breweries Adds Magic Hat, Pyramid and MacTarnahan’s Beers


Rochester, NY - North American Breweries recently announced the purchase of Independent Brewers United which owns Magic Hat, Pyramid and MacTarnahan’s beer. The purchase includes three breweries and five Alehouses and a retail store affiliated with one of the breweries. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

According to Rich Lozyniak CEO of North American Breweries, the new beers add craft brewing credibility, and variety to the beers currently offered by the company. “We are really excited to add Magic Hat, Pyramid and MacTarnahan’s beers to North American Breweries. All three brands have a rich history of craft brewing that helps us gain acceptance in that tight-knit community,” said Lozyniak. “By having more beers to offer our customers, wholesalers and retail accounts, we can better compete with the multi-national mega brewers who dominate the U.S. beer industry.”

Along with the new craft beer offering, North American Breweries also imports and sells Imperial, Labatt Blue and the Labatt family of beers. Out of its Rochester brewery it makes and sells the historic line of Genesee beer, Dundee Ales & Lagers, the Original Honey Brown Lager and Seagram’s Escapes.

“The industry has taken a turn away from the mega brewers. We have a collection of regional and heritage brands that position us well among today’s beer drinkers,” said Rich Lozyniak. “At a time when the overall beer industry is in decline, we’re growing across brands which essentially created a great opportunity to collaborate with some of the best craft brewers in the business.”


According to the company, the heritage and brand position of Magic Hat, Pyramid and MacTarnahan’s will be closely guarded. “The credibility that these brewers have developed in the craft beer segment is key to our success. We will work hard to carefully maintain and grow what was passionately created by people who love to drink and brew beer.”

The new brands mean the addition of three new breweries, one each in: Portland, Oregon; Berkeley, California; and Burlington, Vermont. Magic Hat is the 10th largest craft brewery in the country, while Pyramid is the fifth largest. Both companies have a strong following of loyal consumers who love the craftsmanship that go into each unique beer.


Together Magic Hat, Pyramid and the Portland Brewing Co. (MacTarnahan’s) employ about 600 people. Currently, North American Breweries has approximately 500. “We’re a hardworking group of people with a strong track record of brewing beer, building brands and executing in the marketplace,” said Lozyniak.


Under North American Breweries’ leadership, sales of Labatt Blue and its family of beers, Genesee,  Dundee Ales & Lagers, and Seagram’s Escapes have jumped.  “We have a great opportunity to continue to grow. Magic Hat, Pyramid and MacTarnahan’s come with strong brand-building assets like the Artifactory, Alehouses and breweries,” said Lozyniak. “We now have more opportunities than ever to connect with our beer drinkers and tell our story.”


North American Breweries’ Plans for Magic Hat, Pyramid and MacTarahan’s


·       The beer will remain the same: it will be brewed by the same people in the same breweries, using the same recipes, ingredients and commitment to artisanship as it has always been.

·       All breweries, Alehouses and the Artifactory will remain open. They provide a unique opportunity to sample and showcase the company’s best beers and brewing capabilities. Through the retail locations, we can talk to customers about the beers they want us to make.


North American Breweries’ Promise


·       We will communicate regularly and openly to our employees and at times – the media – about our business.

·       We put a very high value on our people and believe they are key to helping us compete with the mega, multi-national brewers who dominate the U.S. beer industry.

·       We will grow our brands by introducing them to new consumers and in new geographies through a focused sales and distribution effort.

·       We believe in working with one another to make our company great. We regularly adopt best practices company-wide.


About North American Breweries

North American Breweries, headquartered in Rochester, New York was formed in 2009. The company imports and markets Imperial, Labatt Blue and the Labatt family of beers in the U.S.  Its brewery makes and sells the historic line of Genesee beers, Dundee Ales & Lagers, the Original Honey Brown Lager and Seagram’s Escapes.

Kind of bummed about this -- partially because it's always unfortunate to see an independent Vermont business selling to a larger conglomerate, but mostly because Genesee, Dundee, and Labatt are not good company to be in. Those are some bad beers.

But Magic Hat has been going downhill, and I don't think I'm the only one who feels this way. Seems like all their new beers rely too much on candy-like artificial fruit flavors. I was glad that they brought back Blind Faith and Hi.P.A., but those, unfortunately, were/are one shot deals. They're certainly good at marketing themselves as weird zany outsiders (although that's far from reality), but I wish they'd put in more effort into making good beer. Maybe if that was the case, they'd cut it out with the mediocre beers that just get killed off quickly anyway. How many years in a row have they changed the fall seasonal now?

I do hope the new owners keep their word and don't cut jobs or move the brewery. A lot of good people work for Magic Hat. And maybe they'll turn things around and prove all us doubters wrong. I really WANT to like Magic Hat, but I just can't say I do with their current lineup of beers.

As for the people who won't drink a non-VT beer...well, at least Vermont's still the state with the most breweries per capita.

Tyler, as a representative of the paper you should do a little research before blurting. A lot of people have been really scared these past few weeks waiting for news to trickle in about whether or not they have jobs. Having members of the Vermont media contributing to public misconceptions about the takeover is just salt in their wounds.

1. Magic Hat did not sell because they wanted to or because they were not doing well. They were forced into it because one of their chief investors (Basso Capital Management) pulled out.

2. Whether or not you like them, a whole lot of people don't feel that Magic Hat has been "going downhill". They have been doing extremely well despite crap economic circumstances. If you didn't like their beers, why didn't you let them know rather than celebrating their perceived demise? They take feedback very seriously and provide many routes via which customers can contact them to give their opinions. They are on Facebook, Twitter, and hold live streaming tastings with callers and Twitter feed being answered by their head brewer. On their website they have open polls about their beers and encourage people to use their feedback forms.

3. I have no idea what the "weird, zany outsider" remark is supposed to mean. Do you think that Magic Hat is a conventional, stoic insider? This makes no sense.

4. The ever-changing Magic Hat line-up is intentional. It's just what they do and what they have always done. Some last longer than others, some disappear and reappear again. Their vision and values statement reiterates again and again the concept of continuous evolution. I know it's confusing because no other breweries do it, but it's what one might expect from a "weird, zany outsider" brewery.

5. And furthermore... aw, fheck it. I think I need to simply stop reading 7d. It's become too exasperating and disappointing.

As a beer lover I have to agree somewhat with Tyler. I was a huge fan of Blind Faith, and to a lesser extent HIPA. But they do seem to be stuck recently on making candy- and fruit-flavored and "wierd" beers rather than just damn good ones. That doesn't mean I'm happy they're being sold to a out-of-state, conventional beer company.

All these would-be beer experts, what do they reelly know. Let's talk reel beer. Genesee's been around forever and was big time in Vermont long before Bud. Always a quart bottle in the brook behind the cow barn. There has to be some type of magic in such a storied history.

"Let's talk reel beer."

Is that beer you drink while you're fishing?

ehhh magic hat, glorified, "zany", fruit flavored, swill. What MH did well was marketing. I feel for the employees but mh HAS been sliding downhill for quite some time and now it will be just another honey brown or cream ale.

We still have Long Trail, Rock Art, Otter/Wolavers, Switchback and Shed-ache as well as a plethora of brew pubs like Alchemist, Three Needs, VT p&b.

Molly your post says it all and provides the facts that none of Vermont's media outlets did. Bravo.

Maybe Rochester, NY can give us a decent newspaper as part of trade?

Also how is the "fruit flavored swill" Magic Hat makes any different from that which Long Trail churns out - their nauseating "Blackberry Wheat" comes to mind. That's cereal. Not beer.

Thankfully North American Breweries and not an international conglomerate like Diageo. Ask Ben & Jerry's employees how it's working out with Unilever...

long trail....
IPA, double bag, hefeWeizen, Harvest Brown ale, Hibernator, Coffee stout, Double IPA, Imperial Porter, Pollenator, LT Ale, Pale Ale, Belgian Wheat and finally Blackbeary Wheat.
Out of all of those only 1 has a fruit flavor, the rest are traditional brews with no gimmick... nothing dyed red, no frigging apricot, 'green apple, coriander and orange peel', lemon/ginger or vanilla bean.
...nuf sed

How does Long Trail get the rats to pee in the bottles?

how does long trail get the rats to pee in the bottles?

Tyler nailed it. Magic Hat has gradually become less focused on the beer, and more focused on the marketing. Rather than "weird, zany outsiders", maybe we can agree on "quirky"?

Molly, with a product like beer, which has many competitors, you can hardly expect consumers to give direct feedback to the brewery, unless perhaps we are lavishing praise. We instead provide that feedback every time we reach for a competitor's product. Goodbye Bob's, Heart of Darkness, Jinx, Orlio, and Humble Patience. Hello Turbodog, Stovepipe Porter, Vermonster, Dieu du Ciel and Lawson's.

Molly's concept of "continuous evolution", something that she claims no other breweries are doing, is something that Magic Hat is clearly NOT doing since #9 is still ubiquitous. Other brewers have actually differentiated themselves on their "continuously evolving" beers, such as Dogfish Head. Their beers aren't for everyone, but they found their niche and they are very good brewers.

Perhaps Magic Hat's new customer base(many in states where MH was previously unavailable) will continue to support them. Those of us who have a longer history with the brewery remain skeptical.

The problem with Magic Hat's beer isn't the recipes, but the way it's being made. They have a process that's optimized for high output, but it overtaxes the yeast. The resulting byproducts just overwhelm the beer. A few years ago, I got a mix pack and couldn't taste a difference between any of the bottles. The last time I got some samples at the brewery (a few months ago), they were almost undrinkable. Just absolutely foul.

Maybe they'll learn something from Genesee. Their lineup isn't exactly top shelf, but at least it's consistent and drinkable.

Art - the difference is that the mix pack beers all have unique names and labels. It's the beer equivalent of "these go to 11".

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