Laurelwood Brewing founder Mike Dekalb on the Ninkasi Brewing / Legacy Breweries Acquisition

Portland’s brewpub staple Laurelwood Brewing has been purchased by Legacy Breweries, the new parent company of Ninkasi Brewing. Colorado-based Aspen Brewing has also joined the Legacy brands family. One thing that’s unclear is what this means for Laurelwood. Read our interview with Ninkasi CEO Nikos Ridge on their Legacy Breweries partnership.

According to a press release, all Laurelwood assets will transfer ownership to Legacy Breweries, except the Laurelwood brewpub which will remain under original owner Mike DeKalb. Laurelwood has an 18-year history of ups and downs; they have opened and closed numerous locations in Northeast and Northwest Portland, Battle Ground, Washington, the PDX airport, and most recently closed their Sellwood neighborhood pub. Their Sandy Blvd. restaurant, where the brewery resides, is still in operation, as is one location in the Portland airport which will close this November.

Laurelwood Brewing founder Mike DeKalb

“Ninkasi and Laurelwood have had a long history,” said Laurelwood founder Mike DeKalb when reached for comment by The New School. “I met Jamie Floyd when he was at Steelhead in Eugene. We were on the Oregon Brewers Guild marketing committee together back in the day with Jim Parker. When Jamie and Nikos Ridge founded Ninkasi they got their first pitch of yeast from Laurelwood.”

Laurelwood Brewing began as a family friendly brewpub on NE 40th in Portland before moving up the street to their current pub. They also began contract brewing their beers for bottles and cans at Widmer, and then at Full Sail Brewing, and more recently at Ninkasi Brewing for the past year. It’s also no surprise that Laurelwood recently switched distributors from Point Blank to Ninkasi’s Portland distributor Maletis Beverage.

“What Nikos, Jamie and I have come up with is a strategic partnership along wth Legacy Breweries to help Laurelwood grow the beer side of our business to new heights,” says DeKalb. “This agreement expands this relationship to include more beers, different packages, formats, and expanding distribution within our shared distributor network.”

According to a press release from Ninkasi Brewing, both Laurelwood and Aspen Brewing will continue to produce beer as independent breweries under Legacy. We are still trying to figure out if Legacy fully owns Laurelwood, since the brewpub is essentially all of their assets but is supposedly not included in the deal. Without clarification from the parties, it seems like this is just creative writing to make it seem like Laurelwood is still independent. UPDATE 10/14/2019 the official word is Ninkasi Brewing will own all the mainstream distributed Laurelwood brands and has a deal to develop possible future wide releases for distribution. All the beer brewed at the Laurelwood Portland pub will remain under Laurelwood ownership.

“We’ll continue to brew beer and innovate at the Pub on Sandy,” says Mike DeKalb. “Yes that beer is Laurelwood beer, any other beer that is brewed in Eugene or elsewhere is still Laurelwood beer.”

Legacy Breweries’ relationship to Aspen Brewing is much more clear. Legacy has fully purchased the full company after being approached for help by Aspen Brewing.

Ninkasi Brewing founders Nikos Ridge (left) and Jamie Floyd

“When we saw Aspen’s unique position in the Colorado market, we instantly knew we wanted to be involved with their future. They have a long tradition of local support and great beers. The brewery has a strong history of philanthropy in the Colorado Rockies region, which aligns with Legacy’s values,” said Legacy CEO Don Bryant.

The Laurelwood and Aspen Brewing news closely follows the announcement that Alesong Brewing & Blending would be partnering with Ninkasi for distribution and the hiring of Ninkasi’s first chef for their upcoming Eugene brewpub. With Ninkasi Brewing and Legacy Breweries combined efforts, it seems a new small craft brewing conglomerate has been born similar to Canarchy (Oskar Blues, Cigar City, Deep Ellum.) In 2020, Ninkasi plans to open their Better Living Room brewpub in Eugene and a location as part of the Tumwater, Washington brewing district.

“Our recent independent brewery partnerships and acquisitions have rich traditions of support from their local communities and history brewing only the highest quality beers,” said Nikos Ridge, Ninkasi Brewing Company CEO and partner in Legacy Breweries. “Our goal is to support high-quality craft breweries with resources to help strengthen the overall craft brewery market in these regions.”

Aspen Brewing Company was founded in 2008 by Duncan Clauss. He and his team will continue operations under the new partnership, brewing favorites such as the 2016 World Beer Cup gold medalist Independent Pass IPA. Aspen beers are distributed in Colorado by Elite Brands of Colorado, the premier supplier of craft beer. Led by Owner & President Terry Cekola, Elite Brands has been instrumental in helping to support the brand in Colorado. Additionally, Aspen and Legacy have hired Brewmaster Scott Kimball to continue producing unique craft offerings to the Colorado beer market.

About Legacy Breweries
Legacy Breweries was founded for the purpose of supporting world-class breweries and allowing them to focus on what they do best: brewing great beers for their communities. For more information about their breweries, please visit:

Ninkasi Brewing Company: www.ninkasibrewing.com,

Alesong Brewing and Blending: www.alesongbrewing.com

Aspen Brewing Company: www.aspenbrewing.com

Laurelwood Brewing: www.laurelwoodbrewpub.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

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