Anderson Valley Brewing has been acquired

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El Jefe Brewing Company
Sep 18, 2015
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Monterey Bay, California
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A family ownership group has reached a deal to acquire 32-year-old Anderson Valley Brewing Company.

The deal is expected to close on December 13.

Kevin McGee, an entrepreneur and veteran of the craft beer and wine industries, will purchase the Boonville, California-based craft brewery in a cash deal with Anderson Valley owner Trey White. Specific financial terms were not disclosed. McGee’s parents and siblings are co-investing in Anderson Valley.

Once the deal closes, McGee will serve as president and CEO of the company.

“I’m proud of what we’ve built, and the McGee family shares our passion for the brand, the beer, and the ethos,” White said in a press release. “We believe we’ve found the perfect steward to lead the company forward. Kevin’s combination of business acumen and passion for quality beer make him ideally suited for the role.”

White and his partners at HMB Holdings purchased Anderson Valley in 2010 from, Ken Allen, who founded the brewery in 1987, according to the Press Democrat.

McGee told Brewbound that he plans to retain all 60 of Anderson Valley’s employees. Although the 32-year-old craft brewery has not published its production volumes in recent years, McGee estimated that Anderson Valley ranks “well within the top 100” breweries nationwide by volume. It distributes to 30 states; popular beers in Anderson Valley’s portfolio include flagship Boont Amber Ale and its family of goses.

The sale of Anderson Valley comes a day after upstart Chicago brewery Kings & Convicts reached a deal to acquire Ballast Point from Constellation Brands, and two weeks after Kirin-owned Lion Little World Beverages struck a deal to purchase New Belgium. Although craft beer sales have slowed to single digits in recent years, McGee remains bullish on the industry.

“It’s been around and part of the human condition for more than 10,000 years. It’s not going anywhere,” he said. “Good beer will always have a home and will always be appreciated. What changes is the people that are producing it and the way they get it to the people that are drinking it.”

“The idea of having a product with superior flavor and quality and character is never going to be an irrelevant business proposition,” he added.

In McGee’s eyes, Anderson Valley has those traits in spades. They are what attracted him and his family to the brand.

“The really interesting thing about Anderson Valley to us is its history, the substance behind Anderson Valley,” McGee told Brewbound. “The people there have been making awesome beer for a very long period of time and that’s a necessary starting point.”

Once the deal closes, the McGee family will take the reins without any outside investors.

“We don’t have any investors. This isn’t a private equity thing,” McGee said. “We’re actually not even putting debt on the business, so we’ve got the luxury of being able to think long-term, multi-generational. We don’t have to deal with trying to post quarterly reporting that shows growth at whatever cost.”

One of McGee’s first moves as CEO of Anderson Valley will be to hire a brand manager to help increase its visibility in the marketplace. He also plans to shore up the brewery’s relationship with trade groups such as the Brewers Association (BA) and the California Craft Brewers Association (CCBA).

McGee’s path to becoming a brewery owner and CEO is unusual. He moved to California for law school, became a prosecutor focusing on gang violence with various Bay Area district attorneys’ offices and left criminal justice for a corporate law firm. In 2005, McGee landed at Jackson Family Wines, owner of wine brands such as Kendall-Jackson and La Crema; founder Jess Jackson sponsored McGee’s matriculation at the Stanford University Graduate School of Business executive program.

From there, McGee founded Tradecraft Strategic Advisors, a consulting firm specializing in wineries, craft breweries, craft distilleries and cannabis ventures, which gave him a unique view of the alcoholic beverage industry.

“I had been working with my family, trying to find a business opportunity to invest in, and one of the things that I thought was a really good opportunity — and I’m pretty contrarian at the moment on this feeling — is craft beer,” he said.

McGee began dabbling in brewing in 2007 in his garage, brewing with a one-barrel brewhouse as the Healdsburg Brewing Company. His first on-premise account was Johnny Garlic’s in Windsor, California, owned by not-yet-famous chef Guy Fieri.

“Before they even had the word nanobrewery, I was a nano brewer,” McGee said.

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