Ballast Point Deal Closes; New Ownership Discusses Path Forward
Constellation Brands’ sale of Ballast Point to an investor group fronted by little-known Chicago upstart beer company Kings and Convicts officially closed on Monday.
The iconic San Diego craft brewery’s return to independence and ownership by a craft brewing group that didn’t produce 1,000 barrels of beer last year blindsided and confounded industry professionals and media when it was announced in early December.
According to Kings and Convicts CEO Brendan Watters, those industry insiders only had an outsider’s perspective of the Ballast Point business.
“If you’ve got a brand, if you’ve got a company that has very profitable locations that still produces north of 200,000 barrels of beer a year, that’s pretty bloody solid,” he said. “You gotta peel back and look at what’s real.”
In 2015, Constellation Brands paid $1 billion for the brand in 2015. Industry sources have pegged the sale to Kings and Convicts at around $68 million, plus several years of hop contracts.
Although Watters has declined to discuss the sale price, he provided insight into the five years of hop contracts that Kings and Convicts inherited.
“Constellation signed up for these years ago, and they were absolutely what Ballast Point didn’t need,” he said. “But they’ve been renegotiated over the course of the last six months and realigned and what to what Ballast Point needs.”
As such, Watters classified Ballast Point’s hop contracts as “in good shape now.”
“It is [five years], but they are five years at the best prices that you can get,” he said. “These hop contracts are at prices that are half of what the market on a spot price would be. And so the volumes are the things that would have worried us, because we didn’t need them all. Well, the hops partners have been really good to work with because they know that we’re an independent company again, and we’re not some big company.”
Moving forward, Ballast Point’s turnaround starts with adding a sales team, something the brand didn’t have after Constellation reorganized its sales structure in 2018. The company is about a third of its way to hiring 45 salespeople, including national chain accounts and on- and off-premise reps in San Diego.
“These are Ballast Point sales people now selling Ballast Point beer,” he said. “That hasn’t happened for years.”
Much of the new Ballast Point’s focus will be on California, which accounts for 65% of the brewery’s business, Watters said. The goal is to re-engage in its home state and home market, along with about a dozen major markets, including Chicago, New York, Boston, Philadelphia and Texas, among others.
Watters added the company will also make investments in marketing — digital, print or other mediums — to tell the Ballast Point story. A big part of that story is Ballast Point’s beer, namely flagship Sculpin IPA, which will once again be a featured brand after taking a backseat under Constellation to the overall beer brand and innovations such as Fathom IPA and BP Lager.
“Sculpin is a brand name in itself,” Watters said. “For us, it’s sales support, feet on the ground, making sure that we get Sculpin back on draft and back top of mind. But again, we still sell a lot of Sculpin. And so it’s more about making sure that it’s highlighted and really reinforced.”
The focus will also be on new draft releases through a new “Brewers Series.” The first beer under the new ownership group, Grinner IPA, was released on draft earlier this week.
“We will be bringing out a new beer on draft only every month to key accounts,” Watters said. “We’ve got to create that culture of being that craft brewer again. These people have already done it for so long. They just haven’t been led to flourish. So part of this is just giving them a little bit of that and then getting out of the way.”
Innovation for Ballast Point will remain in the beer space and not on alternative alcohol offerings, such as hard seltzers, Watters said.
“That’s just not us,” he added. “We’re going to focus on what Ballast Point does well.”
Watters’ projections for Year One of the new Ballast Point are modest. He believes the craft brand will produce a little less than the 200,000 barrels that the company produced under Constellation’s ownership in 2019.
“You don’t just turn this thing around,” he explained. “I would hope that after a couple years, we’re back to what they did last year, and we can start a steady growth.”
Those efforts also include re-energizing Ballast Point’s 560 employees. The key to reengaging the staff is being present, “being transparent and open” and asking questions, said Watters, who is also in the process of a permanent move to San Diego.
“You have to set the direction of the company, and you have to create that culture of being open with open communication and let them know what’s good, what’s not,” he said. “It’s not as difficult as it sounds. Being visible, being here, being engaged is exactly the only way you can do it.”
As for Ballast Point’s taproom business, Watters described it as “incredibly healthy.” Watters added. As such, the company will maintain all six existing locations — five in California and one in Chicago — and the announcement of an additional yet-to-be-revealed California location is forthcoming.
“People still turn up and drink this beer, even with the negativity that came around it, and I get why they do because it’s bloody good beer,” he said.
Nevertheless, Ballast Point’s Chicago brewpub started a temporary closure earlier this week in order to refresh the look, giving it less of a West Coast vibe and more of a “Kings and Convicts rough” feel, Watters said.
“Chicago makes money,” he added. “But we want it to make more.”
The Chicago pub is expected to reopen by early April.
Ballast Point Brewing Co. Celebrates with Open Letter to San Diego
SAN DIEGO, – March 2, 2020 – With all regulatory permits and licenses finalized, it was announced today Ballast Point and its associated production facilities and brewpubs throughout California and Chicago are now officially owned by Kings & Convicts Brewing Co. To honor the newest chapter in Ballast Point’s 24-year history, company-wide employees ranging from brewing operations to retail management, to quality control and R&D, signed an open letter signifying the return to the brand’s iconic independent roots in San Diego.
An Open Letter from the Employees of Ballast Point
Born in San Diego, Ballast Point was founded in 1996 because we love beer.
Through every chapter, that fact remains constant.
What has changed since ’96, you ask? We’ve heard the rumors. And you’re right.
Quality has changed – it’s better.
Innovation has changed – there’s more.
Variety has changed – we’re creating more now than ever.
So, you’re right. Things have changed over the past 24 years.
It hasn’t always been perfect, but we are stronger today than ever before.
Through all of the change, all we’ve focused on is making great beers to share with you, our friends and neighbors.
The same great people, making the same great beer, endured a trying couple of years.
Why stay, you ask? Each other. Our passion. Our beer.
Longtime customers turned longtime employees still walk our brewery halls, and we’ve been here staying the course. Brewing the beer we want to drink.
We’re all in the same dream, with the same goal. Every day, we pour our heart and soul into the beer we brew and into the family we’ve made.
Ballast Point is back, but in fact, we never left.
A pioneering brewery born within the hallowed, hopped walls of Linda Vista’s Home Brew Mart – its birthplace and incubator for the local and cross-border brewing community – Ballast Point has navigated unchartered waters before since its inception in 1996. But as its moniker implies, quality and consistency have remained cornerstones of the brand’s foundation and the future for Ballast Point includes a continued culture of innovation, collaboration and a passion for brewing great beer.
That innovation begins at the employee level with pilot research and development breweries in every location from San Diego, to Anaheim, Long Beach and Chicago. In any given year, there are on average 125 unique, experimental beer recipes ready to brew on a commercial scale. Formalized in 2013 as ‘Roots to Boots,’ the program champions innovation from within by giving employees an opportunity to brew original beer recipes on a 5bbl system at Ballast Point’s Little Italy brewery where it’s then served across locations. The evolution of the program promises more of the same innovation, but with added distribution channels to share small-batch and scaled creativity within and across communities.
As the new owners of Ballast Point Brewing Co. and due to regulatory licensing requirements, Kings & Convicts is temporarily closing the Ballast Point Tasting Room and Kitchen in Chicago’s Fulton Market beginning today. All 34 employees of Ballast Point Brewing in Chicago will retain their jobs during this temporary closure. Kings & Convicts is taking the opportunity to refresh portions of the interiors of the 14,658-square-foot restaurant and taproom and rooftop spaces, allowing for a refreshed integration of their ‘West Coast meets West Loop’ concept during this time. Ballast Point’s Executive Chef in Chicago, Roy Sellman, will also make seasonal updates and changes to the restaurant menu to reflect a fresh new direction in the kitchen.
Being a part of the community and giving back is a core tenant of both the Kings & Convicts and Ballast Point brands. As such, Ballast Point Tasting Room and Kitchen employees will spend time during the temporary closure volunteering with Chicago-area community organizations and connecting with local brands in the industry.
Ballast Point was born out of the experimental efforts of a couple of home brewers who were passionate about great beer. Though it’s grown over the past 24 years, the unwavering spirit of innovation and the employees’ love for the craft will be kept alive by honoring the Ballast Point adage: We brew the beer we like to drink.
Cheers to the next chapter of Ballast Point.
About Ballast Point Brewing Co.
What started in 1996 as a small group of homebrewers who simply wanted to make great beer evolved into the team of adventurers known today as Ballast Point. From bringing a hoppy twist to a porter or adding four types of malt to its amber ale, to creating the breakthrough gold-medal winning Sculpin IPA, the San Diego-based company is known for adding its touch and asking if there’s a better way. Now an internationally recognized leader in the craft brewing industry with 6 brewery locations in California and Chicago, the company makes over 50 styles of beer and distributes to all 50 states and 17 countries internationally. For more information, visit www.ballastpoint.com and follow our journey on Instagram and Facebook.
About Kings & Convicts Brewing Co.
Kings & Convicts is a privately held company headquartered in San Diego and Highwood, IL, in the North Shore of Chicago. Conceived by an Englishman and an Aussie, Kings & Convicts started brewing for the public in 2017 and was built on the freedom of anti-authority and the spirit of fellowship. They brew ales and lagers inspired by the tales of convicts, royalty and the undercurrent of American gangsters. Every beer tells a story. Kings & Convicts’ beer is available on draft and in cans at its taproom and in bars and restaurants across Chicagoland and southern Wisconsin. For more information, follow along on Instagram and Facebook and visit www.kingsandconvicts.com.
Kings & Convicts Brewing Co., Ballast Point Brewing Co. Media Contact:
Peyton Robertson, Bay Bird Inc
Parkside Athletics to Host Young Professionals Night presented by the Kings and Convicts Brewing Company
In partnership with YLink, Parkside Athletics will host Young Professionals Night presented by The Kings and Convicts Brewing Company on Thursday, Jan. 30 at the Sports & Activity Center. The YP Night will coincide with the men’s and women’s basketball teams hosting Davenport University.
A strong supporter of Parkside Athletics, The Kings and Convicts Brewing Company is excited to welcome members of our community to Young Professionals Night to learn more about their plans for a 50,000-square foot brewery set to open this year in Pleasant Prairie. Representatives from Kings and Convicts will also share information about their beer selection, employment opportunities, and other plans for their business locally, nationally, and globally!
The women’s basketball team, currently sitting atop the standings in the GLIAC’s North Division, will host Davenport at 5:30 PM. The men’s basketball game against the Panthers will start at approximately 7:30 PM in De Simone Gymnasium, where the Rangers have won 16 of their past 17 games.
“Parkside Athletics is excited to partner with YLink and The Kings and Convicts Brewing Company to bring young professionals throughout Southeastern Wisconsin together to network and cheer on the Rangers,” said Andrew Gavin, Director of Athletics. “Our University is committed to identifying opportunities to convene people from our community on campus, and this event presents an awesome way to support that initiative!”
The event is open to anyone 21 and over and is FREE to anyone that registers by Monday, Jan. 27. Registration includes game tickets and the entry into the Young Professionals social with appetizers and beer tasting. Guests can also register at the event with the purchase of a game ticket.
Register online here http://donate.uwp.edu/2020ParksideAthleticsYoungProfessionalsNight and join us that evening to cheer on the Rangers, network with other young professionals in the region, and learn more about Kings and Convicts Brewing Company and their plans in Pleasant Prairie and beyond!
Young Professionals Night presented by The Kings & Convicts Brewing Company
Thursday, January 30
5:30 PM – Parkside Women’s Basketball vs. Davenport
6:00 PM – Young Professionals Night begins – Networking and Beer Tasting
7:00 PM – Program presented by The Kings & Convicts Brewing Company
7:30 PM – Men’s Basketball vs. Davenport
Register by Monday, Jan. 27 for FREE game tickets and entry into the event, including a Kings & Convicts pint glass, appetizers, and a beer tasting.
Craft Brewer Kings & Convicts Brewing Co. Buys Ballast Point Brewing Co. from Constellation Brands
SAN DIEGO, – Dec. 3, 2019 – Chicagoland-based Kings & Convicts Brewing Co. announced today it has signed an agreement with Constellation Brands, Inc., to acquire Ballast Point and a number of its associated production facilities and brewpubs, excluding the production brewery in Daleville, Virginia, which will remain a part of Constellation’s Craft & Specialty division. A pioneer in the craft beer movement in San Diego, Ballast Point has a 20-plus-year history of supporting the art of homebrewing and creating high-quality, innovative and award-winning beer.
“We’re excited to welcome the team at Ballast Point into the Kings & Convicts family,” said Brendan Watters, Kings & Convicts’ chief executive officer. “As craft brewers, we have long admired the quality and spirit of the Ballast Point brand and team. Their best-in-class brewing standards will remain unchanged, delivering the same high-quality, award-winning beer the company has become known for over the years. Our goal is to leverage Ballast Point’s deep know-how, talented and passionate employee base, and outstanding operating team to grow both Ballast Point and Kings & Convicts together.”
Kings & Convicts will retain all positions within Ballast Point’s existing workforce, which is comprised of approximately 560 employees. The company will continue to utilize Ballast Point’s current U.S. distribution network and plans to hire a sales and marketing workforce to support long-term growth in all 50 states.
Kings & Convicts is a privately-held company backed by a small group of investors who are passionate about the Ballast Point brand and who are focused on the long term. Co-founded in 2017 by Englishman, COO and head brewer, Chris Bradley, and Aussie and CEO, Brendan Watters, Kings & Convicts brews ales and lagers out of its 5,000 sq. ft. Highwood brewery and taproom in the North Shore of Chicago, which are available on draft and in cans at the taproom and in bars and restaurants across Chicagoland and Wisconsin. With many years between them separately operating and managing successful global businesses in the hospitality, finance, GPS and mobile technology sectors, Chris and Brendan connected over their mutual love for good craft beer. The duo announced plans earlier this year to open a second location of Kings & Convicts in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin, approximately 30 miles from Milwaukee. The 48,000 sq. ft. destination brewery will house a large production brewhouse, taproom, restaurant and event space and is expected to open in Fall 2020.
As part of the transaction, Kings & Convicts will acquire Ballast Point’s four brewpub locations in California, including Downtown Disney/Anaheim, Long Beach, Miramar, and Little Italy, as well as the newest Ballast Point brewpub located in Chicago’s Fulton Market District which opened in May of this year and Ballast Point’s original homebrewing supply and tasting room in San Diego’s Linda Vista neighborhood.
“We look forward to engaging the community and getting a connection back to the local markets through our distributor partners, on and off-premise retailers and our dedicated salesforce ambassadors,” said Chris Bradley, Kings & Convicts’ chief operating officer. “Ballast Point has well-established R&D programs and we want to continue fostering that innovation and experimentation by listening to our consumers and serving specialty and local beers in each market.”
Current volume of Ballast Point is expected to surpass 200,000 barrels in 2019 and is available in all 50 states as well as internationally in 19 countries including South Korea, Sweden, Australia, and New Zealand.
Financial terms of the deal, which is expected to close once all licenses and permits have been received, were not disclosed.
About Kings & Convicts Brewing Co.
Kings & Convicts is a privately held company headquartered in Highwood, IL, in the North Shore of Chicago. Conceived by an Englishman and an Aussie, Kings & Convicts started brewing for the public in 2017 and was built on the freedom of anti-authority and the spirit of fellowship. They brew ales and lagers inspired by the tales of convicts, royalty and the undercurrent of American gangsters. Every beer tells a story. Kings & Convicts’ beer is available on draft and in cans at its taproom and in bars and restaurants across Chicagoland and southern Wisconsin. For more information, follow along on Instagram and Facebook.
About Ballast Point Brewing Co.
What started in 1996 as a small group of homebrewers who simply wanted to make great beer evolved into the team of adventurers known today as Ballast Point. From bringing a hoppy twist to a porter or adding four types of malt to its amber ale, to creating the breakthrough gold-medal winning Sculpin IPA, the San Diego-based company is known for adding its touch and asking if there’s a better way. Now an internationally recognized leader in the craft brewing industry with 6 brewery locations in California and Chicago, the company makes over 50 styles of beer and distributes to all 50 states and 17 countries internationally. For more information, visit www.ballastpoint.com.
Kings & Convicts Media Contacts:
Peyton Robertson, Bay Bird Inc
Alex Harmon, Bay Bird Inc
Kings & Convicts Pleasant Prairie Groundbreaking (August 2019)
For the complete drone video click HERE
Kings & Convicts on tap at the Bristol Renaissance Faire (July 2019)
Hear ye hear ye…. The Kings & Convicts Brewing Co. is coming to the Bristol Renaissance Faire. We will have Kings Bitch and Hougoumont on draft and in cans throughout the 2019 season. The Faire will be open Saturdays & Sundays from July 6, 2019- September 2, 2019. For more information and tickets click HERE
PLEASANT PRAIRIE — The earth will soon be moving at the site of a proposed automated brewhouse, taproom and restaurant planned for 7.4 acres south of Highway 50, west of Interstate 94.
The Plan Commission on Monday night approved preliminary site and operational plans to begin mass grading and installation of a retaining wall and stormwater systems for Kings and Convicts brewery, which will be located on vacant property at 7807 and 7887 120th Ave.
The commission also approved zoning map and text amendments that pertain to rezoning for the brewery and a future hotel.
Along with the 51,000-square-foot brewhouse and restaurant, developers are also proposing a 110,000-square-foot hotel for the site that would include a private suite, restaurant, banquet bar and meeting rooms and other facilities. However, formal plans for the hotel have yet to be submitted to the village.
Jean Werbie-Harris, the village’s community development director, said the automated brewhouse will be the focal point of Kings and Convicts.
It will be situated behind the taproom bar with the towering fermenters standing immediately behind it.
According to the plans submitted to the village, fermentation tanks will be on display internally and externally, with glazed walls and lights.
The owners have invested in a state-of-the-art brewhouse and cellar with a $2 million system to brew ales, lagers and pilsners for sale in the taproom and for distribution in Wisconsin and the Midwest.
The establishment will also have an event center and a “brig” that would hold 250 and 50 people, respectively. The establishment expects to serve classic American, as well as Aussie and English-style fare, according to the plans.
Eager to begin
According to Mark Eberle, an engineer with Nielsen Madsen & Barber representing the site’s developer, developers were eager to begin work on the site.
The work includes an extensive system of retaining walls — about 7,000 square feet — as well as sheet pilings below it.
The property is also in the Des Plaines River watershed, and workers will be installing a concrete vault underground retention system, he said.
“It’s a beautiful site — very visible, great spot on the freeway — but it does have its challenges. There’s quite a bit of work to be done out there to get that site ready,” Eberle said.
“We’re looking to get an early start on the project as we work on the final design details of the brewery, specifically, and the hotel after that.”
Developers expect to begin construction later this year, with completion scheduled for next summer.
The plans are expected to come before the Village Board next week.
KENOSHA, Wis. — Kings and Convicts Brewing Company will be the presenting sponsor of the inaugural Ranger Impact Open, Director of Athletics Andrew Gavin announced on Monday. Kings and Convicts Brewing Company is set to open a nearly 50,000-square foot location in Pleasant Prairie and Kenosha County.
The inaugural Ranger Impact Open presented by Kings and Convicts Brewing Company will take place on July 22, 2019 at Kenosha Country Club. The golf outing will be a first-class fundraising event celebrating Wisconsin’s only Division II athletics department.
“The Ranger Impact Open is an opportunity to tell the story of Parkside Athletics, which is in the midst of an exciting new era,” Gavin said. “Kings and Convicts is also embarking on a new era as they expand into our thriving community, and we are thrilled that they are partnering with us on this event. We thank Brendan Watters for their support, as it will be exciting to celebrate with them at this event and beyond.”
Kings and Convicts Brewing Company will also become a full-member of the Parkside Athletics Corporate Partners Program during the 2019-20.
“We are so excited to be associated with Parkside Athletics, the opportunity to link with the Rangers and the local community in general is something we are really looking forward to,” said Brendan Watters, Kings and Convicts Co-Founder.
Those interested in registering for the Ranger Impact Open presented by Kings and Convicts Brewing Company can visit www.ParksideRangers.com/RangerImpactOpen. The format is a 4-person shamble, and entry dues are $1,000/foursome, $250/individual, and $50 for the reception only.
For more information on sponsorship opportunities, please click here. The proceeds from the Ranger Impact Open presented by Kings and Convicts Brewing Company will support the Ranger Impact Fund, the primary fundraising arm supporting Parkside Athletics.
Two Year Anniversary Celebration (May 2019)
On May 18th we will be celebrating our second anniversary. Thank you to all of our loyal followers who have helped us get here! For more information click HERE
Distribution to Southern Wisconsin (April 2019)
We are thrilled to announce that we are partnering with C.J.W inc. to distribute our beer to Kenosha, Racine and Walworth Counties in Southern Wisconsin. This is our first entry into the Wisconsin market that will be followed up with the opening of our expansion facility in 2020. For more information on where to find our beer or how to become a retailer check them out HERE
Brewery Expansion (January 2019)
48,000 sq.ft destination brewery on I-94 and State Highway 50 in Pleasant Prairie, WI complete with taproom, restaurant, event space and retail outlet.
PLEASANT PRAIRIE, WI (JANUARY 2019) – Kings & Convicts Brewing Co. is pleased to announce plans to open their second brewery in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin. The 48,000 sq.ft. facility will house a large production brew-house, taproom, restaurant and event space.
Kings & Convicts Brewing Co. has contracted with developer and land-owner, Branko Tupanjac of BRV General Construction, to build the facility which will be adjacent to a new construction 132 room all-suite hotel that will be franchised with a national hotel chain.
The new facility draws upon elements of an old world brewery complete with a colonial style feel that will help tell the Kings & Convicts’ brewing story. The building will also feature design elements reminiscent of the historical Hercules/DuPont Powder Plant that exploded in 1911 in Pleasant Prairie. With excellent visibility from Interstate 94 and easy access off State Highway 50, guests to the brewery will enjoy ample parking, ensuring a great experience in which to enjoy locally brewed Kings & Convicts beer complete with BBQ meats, burgers, tacos and salads.
“The Village of Pleasant Prairie has been great to work with, they have helped in the design process and assisted closely in the overall development. We want to create a destination brewery where we can continue to expand our brewing operations but also where people can relax with a lager and learn about the history of beer and the brewing process as well”, said Brendan Watters, Co-Founder and Convict of Kings & Convicts.
“We are excited to welcome Kings & Convicts to Pleasant Prairie. Adding attractive and unique destinations will promote tourism within the Village and offer a fun and memorable experience for residents” added Village Administrator Nathan Thiel.
The taproom will seat 200 people and include a separate event space that will be able to accommodate private parties for groups of up to 225. An outdoor deck on the second floor will overlook the Des Plaines watershed, enabling guests to enjoy a beer and a range of food cooked on site while relaxing around fire pits looking out over the perpetual green space. Summer brewery events will also be a feature of the new site.
Inside, guests in the taproom will be able to view the brewery operations and additionally scheduled tours will be available for people who wish to learn more about the brewing process and the stories of the beer that Kings & Convicts brew.
The new facility is anticipated to open for operations in the Fall of 2019. Kings & Convicts will maintain their existing taproom and brewery operations in Highwood, Illinois continuing to brew on their original site.