Atlanta company buys brewing company

Posted: Thursday, January 03, 2002

YAKIMA, Wash. -- The central Washington pub where the founder liked to brag that he started the wave of modern microbreweries has been sold to an Atlanta corporation.

The Yakima Brewing and Malting Co., along with Grant's Brewpub, was sold Monday by Stimson Lane Vineyards & Estates in Woodinville to Black Bear Brewing.

A purchase price was not disclosed.

''Yakima Brewing is going to be the cornerstone of our plans to assemble a network of breweries across the United States,'' Paul Brown, president of Black Bear, said Wednesday.

Black Bear plans to continue producing and distributing Yakima Brewing's line of Bert Grant's specialty beers.

Yakima Brewing was founded in 1982 by an outspoken Scotsman named Bert Grant, who settled in Yakima, the heart of the nation's premier hops-growing region. He often railed against the bland, uniform taste of nationally distributed beers.

Grant, who died last year at the age of 73, contended his pub it was the first establishment in the country to brew and serve beer on the same site since Prohibition ended.

''Bert Grant was a true pioneer in the U.S. craft brewing industry,'' said Greg Tranum, executive vice president of Black Bear.

''We intend to restore the brand to the prominence it deserves.''

Last year, Yakima Brewing produced 10,000 barrels of beer available by bottle in cities across the country. The brewery employs 10 people and the pub about 40.

Stimson Lane, the state's largest wine company, purchased the brewing company and pub from Grant in 1995. Stimson Lane owns such wineries as Chateau Ste. Michelle, Columbia Crest and Snoqualmie.

''We feel that Black Bear Brewing will be a good owner for Yakima Brewing and Grant's pub because they have the same high standards,'' said Ted Baseler, president of Stimson Lane.

The wine company's new strategic plan calls for a complete focus on producing premium wines, so a decision was made to sell the beer division, he said.

In October, Black Bear acquired Woodstock Brewing co. in Kingston, N.Y., and will introduce the Woodstock line of beers to the western United States.

Although brewpubs have been around for centuries, American ones were closed in the 1920s under Prohibition.

Grant was annoyed by claims of other brewpubs that they were the first since Prohibition.

''I, Bert Grant, did give birth to the first modern brewpub in America,'' he wrote on his Web site. ''It was back in 1982, a Wednesday, as I remember.

''So, please, if any of my imitators or an uninformed friend should make a foolhardy claim in conflict with the truth, do the noble thing. Buy them a Grant's and show them the error of their ways.''

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On the Net:

www.grants.com



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