The local restaurant holding company that sold Breckenridge Brewery to Anheuser Busch InBev in December will continue to use the Breckenridge name on two of its restaurants. Breckenridge-Wynkoop Holdings has licensed the names Breckenridge Brewery Colorado Craft, located in LoDo, and Breckenridge Ale House, located in Grand Junction, says BW Holdings' Lee Driscoll.
The agreement is called a “paid-up” license, which means BW doesn't have to pay AB InBev for it. It is also perpetual, although either party can terminate it at any time, Driscoll adds.
“We think the name is important, and it is important to us. We have a long history there, and we are still very much attached to that,” Driscoll explains. “We think it benefits both of us to continue to use it.”
AB InBev, the maker of Budweiser, shocked Colorado's craft-beer industry on December 22 when it announced that it had acquired Breckenridge, which was founded in 1990 and is one of the state's oldest craft breweries. Terms of the deal were not revealed, but AB InBev now owns Breckenridge Brewery's main facility in Littleton, along with the Farm House Restaurant next door and the original Breckenridge Brewpub in Breckenridge.
AB InBev has purchased seven other craft breweries nationwide over the past few years, including Chicago's Goose Island, Elysian Brewing in Washington and Arizona-based Four Peaks. Those acquisitions have rankled the craft-beer industry, which was founded in part to compete with mega-brewers.
BW Holdings was formed in late 2010 when the owners of the Wynkoop Brewing Company in Denver and several other restaurants and breweries acquired Breckenridge; the company has since sold some of those properties as well of the majority of its real estate. BW still owns the Wynkoop, Phantom Canyon Brewing in Colorado Springs, the Ale House in Grand Junction, the Cherry Cricket, and the Ale House at Amato's. Driscoll says he plans to hold on to those businesses. “This is an opportunity for us to focus on those restaurants and brewpubs,” he says, adding that “a great deal of our attention was diverted to” Breckenridge Brewery, which opened its new twelve-acre, $36 million campus last May.
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BW is currently working on a $1 million project replacing its entire brewhouse at the Wynkoop; the process is expected to take at least two more months. When it is complete, Driscoll says, the Wynkoop will be able to increase its capacity significantly.
The Wynkoop had previously had an arrangement with Breckenridge – called an alternating proprietorship – to brew and can some of its flagship beers, like Rail Yard Ale. The two breweries were updating that arrangement in recent months, but have called it off in light of the AB InBev acquisition: “The new Wynkoop brewhouse will satisfy our growth needs for the next few years,” Driscoll says.
BW will also keep the Breckenridge-Wynkoop name for the foreseeable future.