Elysian Brewing Sold to Anheuser-Busch InBev

Elysian brewing hop logo

The headline says it all folks–another Pacific Northwest cornerstone brewery has sold out to Anheuser-Busch InBev, with Seattle, Washington’s Elysian Brewing being the latest victim. Word has come to us that the majority partner in Elysian Brewing has sold the company, including all 4 of its Seattle pub locations. I have been hearing rumors for months that a Washington brewery was soon to sell, but did not guess it would be the fiercely independent Dick Cantwell of Elysian. So it makes sense that the sale may have been brought about more by Joe Bisacca, Elysian ‎CEO.

LoserLabelHow ironic is it that Elysian beer makes a SubPop records collaboration beer called “Loser” with the tag-line “Coporate Beer still Sucks”. It’s almost as if A-B wants to make them eat those words. It then makes a certain amount of sense that face of the company, Dick Cantwell, may not have been on board with the whole acquisition, but he is a minority partner. We are making some inquiries into getting an interview, but in the meantime here is the Anheuser-Busch press release:

Anheuser-Busch today announced it has agreed to purchase Elysian Brewing Company, based in Seattle, Washington. For nearly 20 years, Elysian has brewed an award-winning portfolio of beers, including Immortal IPA and some of the industry’s most innovative and sophisticated brands.

“For two decades, we’ve welcomed guests into our brewpubs and served them creative and impeccably crafted beers,” said Joe Bisacca, Elysian ‎CEO and co-founder, who will continue with Elysian along with his partners, Dick Cantwell and David Buhler. “After a lot of hard work, we’ve grown from one Seattle brewpub to four pub locations and a production brewery. With the support of Anheuser-Busch, we will build on past successes and share our beers with more beer lovers moving forward.”

Dick Cantwell, Elysian co-founder and Head Brewer added, “Throughout our journey we’ve been focused on brewing a portfolio of both classic and groundbreaking beers and supporting innovation and camaraderie in the beer industry through collaboration and experimentation. By joining with Anheuser-Busch we’ll be able to take the next steps to bring that energy and commitment to a larger audience.”

Elysian sold more than 50,000 barrels of beer in 2014, with Immortal IPA accounting for more than a quarter of the company’s total volume.

“Elysian’s story includes everything we look for in a partner,” said Andy Goeler, CEO, Craft, Anheuser-Busch. “The team has spent their careers brewing distinctive beers in the thriving West Coast beer community and building unique venues that celebrate beer. As the fastest growing brewer in Washington, their recipe is working. Elysian’s brands are an important addition to our high-end beer portfolio, and we look forward to working together.”

In addition to the Seattle Airport Way brewery, the acquisition includes the company’s four Seattle brewpubs, Elysian Capitol HillElysian TangletownElysian Fields and Elysian BAR.

Anheuser-Busch’s purchase of Elysian is expected to close by the end of the first quarter of 2015. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

About Elysian Brewing Co.

Elysian Brewing is a Seattle, Wash., based brewery founded in 1995 by principals Dick Cantwell, Joe Bisacca and David Buhler. Elysian’s first Seattle location, a 220-seat beer hall and main brewery, opened in 1996 on Capitol Hill, Seattle’s most populous neighborhood. Known for variety, Elysian has brewed more than 350 beers since it opened. The brewer currently distributes its brands in 11 states: Washington, Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware and New York, as well as internationally in Vancouver BC and Alberta, Canada; Taiwan; Australia and Japan. For more information, check outwww.elysianbrewing.com or be social at fb.com/ElysianBrewingCompany and @ElysianBrewing on Instagram and Twitter.

About Anheuser-Busch

For more than 160 years, Anheuser-Busch and its world-class brewmasters have carried on a legacy of brewing America’s most-popular beers. Starting with the finest ingredients sourced from Anheuser-Busch’s family of growers, every batch is hand-crafted using the same exacting standards and time-honored traditions passed down through generations of proud Anheuser-Busch brewmasters and employees. Best known for its fine American-style lagers, Budweiser and Bud Light, the company’s beers lead numerous beer segments and combined hold 47.2 percent share of the U.S. beer market. Anheuser-Busch is the U.S. arm of Anheuser-Busch InBev and operates 15 breweries, 17 distributorships and 23 agricultural and packaging facilities across the United States, representing a capital investment of more than $15.5 billion. Its flagship brewery remains in St. Louis, Mo., and is among the global company’s largest and most technologically capable breweries. Visitor and special beermaster tours are available at its St. Louis and four other Anheuser-Busch breweries. For more information, visit www.anheuser-busch.com.

Samurai Artist
Samurai Artist

Founder of The New School and most frequent contributor Ezra Johnson-Greenough has worked in the craft beer industry for almost 10 years, doing everything from illustrating beer labels to bartending at renowned beer bars and breweries like Belmont Station, Apex, Laurelwood and Upright Brewing. He has also had a hand in creating events like the Portland Fruit Beer Festival, Portland Beer Week, and the Brewing up Cocktails series. He is available for freelance consultation in marketing, events, graphic design and branding. Contact: SamuraiArtist@NewSchoolBeer.com


  • Green Coyote
    Green Coyote
    Fri Jan 23, 2015 8:41 PM

    This news disgusts me…not because I’m a huge Elysian fan, but rather I can’t stand AB buying up another brewery to go along with all the I-5 cooridor distributors. If you can’t beat ’em, buy them out before they put you out of business.

    • Matthew Swihart
      Matthew Swihart
      Fri Jan 23, 2015 10:26 PM

      just a little throw up in my mouth with these acquisitions

      • Eric
        Sat Jan 24, 2015 3:42 AM

        It’s unfortunate these local business sell out to larger and larger corporations. 10 barrel, now Elysian selling out to a company who has done everything they can to prevent the growth of small breweries. Anheuser Busch threatened to sue local establishments (johns market) and used a smear campaign to gain market share against Sam Adams. They are using their legal team to block Stone brewing from opening in SC. The list of dirty tactics to keep small breweries goes on. They bully distributors to sell only bud product…I don’t care how much money these micre breweries were offered. It’s bad business and even crappier beer. Its easy for me to drink true local brews and not support an oligopoly. You should decide for yourself. Support breweries like ninkasi who recently switched to local distributors and refuse to support the king of bad brewery business.

        • Richard Alexander
          Richard Alexander
          Sat Jan 24, 2015 8:40 PM

          We have been drinking microbrew since the earliest days, with Bert Grant, the original Pyramid, and the once wonderful Widmers’ Brothers. When Anheuser-Busch acquired a share of Widmers, largely in a deal over distribution, Widmer moved quickly to larger flashier brewpubs, and then (of course) to brews that would have wider and wider appeal to the general public. Their once flagship highly hopped ale was gradually replaced and at last disappeared.

          All we can hope is that Dick Cantwell can hold out for his own style at least for a while. It would be a tragedy for microbrew is Moon Dust, and Dark of the Moon, and Dragonstooth faded into oblivion.

          Staying small and local is the only protection against the Saw Adams syndrome.