New Belgium buys San Francisco’s Magnolia Brewing for $2.7 million
By Esther Mobley
SF Chronical
Colorado-based New Belgium Brewing Company has agreed to purchase the assets of San Francisco’s Magnolia Brewing. The deal, which is part of a bankruptcy proceeding, cost New Belgium $2.7 million.

Magnolia founder Dave McLean filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in late 2015. Since then, his two San Francisco breweries have remained open, but the future of the 20-year-old company remained unclear.

“Dave and Magnolia are great friends of ours,” New Belgium founder Kim Jordan told The Chronicle. “They’re venerable in San Francisco and have a lot of heritage.”

Citing the recent sale of San Francisco’s Anchor Brewing to Japanese brewery Sapporo, Jordan said: “I just think it’s a really sweet opportunity for Dave, for us, and for the craft brewing community to do something like this.”

Magnolia’s two brewpubs will remain open for business. As for whether production will increase, Jordan said she’s still not sure. The current capacity of Magnolia’s Dogpatch brewery is 30 barrels, and the Haight brewery’s is a mere 7 barrels.

New Belgium, meanwhile, produces about 1 million barrels annually, as of this year. Perhaps best known for its Fat Tire ale, the company has breweries in Colorado and Asheville, N.C., though Jordan — who lives part-time in San Francisco — said she’d long considered a permanent move to California.

The Brewer’s Association defines craft breweries as one that produces under 6 million barrels per year. New Belgium is 100-percent employee owned, Jordan said.

Dick Cantwell, founder of Elysian Brewing (which was acquired by ABInBev in 2015), will join as Magnolia’s new head brewer. He will work alongside McLean, who now becomes a Magnolia employee, to oversee brewing.

Belgian brewery Oud Beersel, known for its lambic beers, has also been named a partner in this deal. The goal, said New Belgium’s Bryan Simpson, is that Oud Beersel could eventually collaborate with Cantwell and McLean on spontaneously fermented beers under the Magnolia label.

As for whether we can expect more acquisitions by New Belgium, Jordan said she’s not counting it out, though they might wait a bit. “We think we’ll spend at least a little time savoring this and enjoying it,” she added.

Esther Mobley is The San Francisco Chronicle’s wine, beer and spirits writer. Email: Twitter: @Esther_mobley Instagram: @esthermob