Aspen Brewing Splits from Oregon's Ninkasi, Buys Capitol Creek Brewery

Aspen Brewing Splits from Oregon's Ninkasi, Buys Capitol Creek BreweryEXPAND
Aspen Brewing
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The Colorado-based investment group that bought both Oregon-based Laurelwood Brewing and the famed Ninkasi Brewing in Eugene, Oregon, as well as Colorado's Aspen Brewing in 2019, has split with Ninkasi in an apparently amicable agreement that will allow the two entities to go their own way after the pandemic made their partnership more complicated, according to a statement Friday from Ninkasi.

In the aftermath, Legacy Breweries, which is run by longtime beverage-industry pro Don Bryant, has purchased Capitol Creek Brewery in Basalt, which had been for sale for at least six months (the asking price was $635,000; terms of the deal with Legacy were not announced). Aspen Brewing and Capitol Creek will each keep their own identities under the umbrella of a new entity called High Country Brewing LLC.

"This gives High Country two restaurants and two breweries and [it] is starting construction on a new tasting room" at Aspen Brewing's large production facility, which is located in a business park near the Aspen/Pitkin County Airport, Legacy Breweries said in a statement announcing the deal. In addition, the company will be "exploring further investments in the Roaring Fork Valley" and possibly other parts of the state.

Bryant, who moved to Evergreen two years ago after a career working for the Hop Union/Yakima Chief hop company, Mark Anthony Brands, E. & J. Gallo Winery and others, had originally planned to gather eight to ten large craft breweries in strategic cities across the country under one umbrella, in a model similar to what Oskar Blues Brewing has done with Canarchy, a private equity-backed entity that owns seven brands, with breweries in Colorado, Texas, Florida, North Carolina, Texas, Utah, Michigan and California.

Capitol Creek Brewing in Basalt.
Capitol Creek Brewing in Basalt.
Capitol Creek Brewing

But that is no longer the goal. "Having moved to Colorado since the Ninkasi purchase, my personal interest in Colorado breweries has certainly changed," Bryant tells Westword in an e-mail. "We are focusing on a number of possible moves here in Colorado."

In addition, Aspen Brewing is making beer for Made Here Beer, a lifestyle brand that was founded a few months ago by Scott Eastwood (son of actor/director Clint Eastwood) and Dane Chapin, an entrepreneur who is known for having founded the company that makes specialized versions of the game Monopoly.

According to Bryant, Made Here Beer is a joint venture with Eastwood and his partners; the beers, American IPA, American Lager and American Ale, will be sold exclusively in Colorado for now.

The brand uses the slogan "Grown Here. Brewed Here. Canned Here. Made Here," and its website says that Eastwood and Chapin "bonded over their passion for high-quality, American-made products and workmanship, and invite you to join them in celebrating America at its best."

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