New Belgium leads group to purchase San Francisco brewery

FORT COLLINS — New Belgium Brewing Co. and a group of partners have purchased San Francisco-based Magnolia Brewing Co.

The purchasing group features New Belgium as the majority partner, with Dick Cantwell, founder of Elysian Brewing Co., and the brewery Oud Beersel as minority partners.

Kim Jordan, chairwoman of New Belgium Brewing Co. in Fort Collins. BizWest file photograph.
Dave McLean, founder of Magnolia Brewing Co.

The Magnolia Brewing assets were purchased as part of a bankruptcy proceeding, according to a news release.

The deal cost New Belgium $2.7 million.

The partnership will operate both Magnolia locations with its existing staff, with Cantwell at the helm of brewing operations. Magnolia founder Dave McLean will be an employee of the partnership.

This is Cantwell’s first time back in brewing since he left Elysian in 2015 when it was acquired by Anheuser-Busch InBev.

New Belgium’s plan, according to the release, is to build an alliance of varied talent between it and Magnolia, and to not turn its Haight Street and Dogpatch locations into New Belgium brewpubs. The company said it does not plan to change much in Magnolia’s tap lineup.

“We’ve been looking for ways to diversify our assets and expand our community,” said New Belgium co-founder and executive chair, Kim Jordan, in a prepared statement. “These two tap rooms are right in the heart of historic San Francisco neighborhoods, a place Dick [Cantwell] and I call home. Magnolia makes excellent beer and plays an important role in the community. We’re excited about the possibilities and look forward to continuing our journey while honoring Magnolia’s history and presence.”

Magnolia was founded in 1997 in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury district. In 2015, it faced financial difficulties and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in November of that year.

“Magnolia has had quite a journey in San Francisco for nearly two decades, including some very challenging and difficult times in recent years,” said founder and brewmaster Dave McLean, in a statement. “I’m incredibly grateful for this opportunity to see Magnolia start a new chapter and to be working with New Belgium, Dick Cantwell and Oud Beersel to preserve what we all love about Magnolia while embarking on some exciting new craft beer adventures together.”

The deal is expected to close in September.