Craft beer is all the rage right now, and in another case of the small guys being swallowed by a major corporation, Lion has expanded its boutique footprint by buying Dunedin brewery Emerson's for an undisclosed price.
Effective November 30, Emerson’s will become a standalone business unit within Lion and will continue to operate from Dunedin with the same team of 12.
Emerson’s was formed 20 years ago with its first brew being London Porter in January 1993. The brewhouse has the capacity to produce one million litres per annum.
“It is business as usual for Emerson’s – the taste, integrity to style, quality and consistency of our beers will remain the same," said founder Richard Emerson.
"Lion’s ownership allows us to continue doing what we do well – experimenting and brewing great beer. We will now have the backing to help us to realise our growth aspirations”.
According to the Otago Daily Times, Emerson's had also considered going public, not unlike fellow craft brewery Moa.
Rory Glass, Lion NZ managing director, said Emerson’s was a fantastic brand with a rich story and iconic beers.
Lion is the country's largest brewer as well as producing, marketing and distributing a number of international beer brands in New Zealand and Australia. It's owned by Japanese beverages giant Kirin.
But some bars, such as Wellington's Hashigo Zake, which won't continue to stock Emerson's beer, aren't impressed.
“We don’t want to find out how long it takes for Kirin to start meddling with the brewery,” said proprietor Dominic Kelly.
Emerson’s has won numerous brewing and business awards over the years, including BREWNZ Champion Brewery 2009 and the Supreme Award Winner at the 2010 Westpac Otago Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Awards.