Fans of Lake Louie beers will now find more places to get a pint.
Verona base Wisconsin Brewing Company announced May 19 a deal had been finalized to acquire Arena based Lake Louie Brewing. The deal is the first purchase involving two brick and mortar breweries in Wisconsin since Miller acquired Leinenkugel in 1988.
Wisconsin Brewing Company President and CEO Carl Nolen said talks about the acquisition began two years ago. The value of the acquisition is being kept confidential.
Lake Louie Founder Tom Porter started the brewery 20 years ago by mortgaging his home and cashing in his 401(k).
“After 20 great years, we maxed out our brewery,” Porter said in a statement. “The option was to either borrow a ton of money and expand or merge with a great group of people whom I’ve known and respected for decades.”
Porter retains ownership of the Arena brewing facility under the deal and will continue on working for Wisconsin Brewing Company.
Nolan said one thing that made Lake Louie attractive for Wisconsin Brewing Company was the prospect of expanding their beer portfolio with the drinks offered by the smaller brewery.
“A brand that really defines Lake Louie is their Warped Speed Scotch Ale, and that’s a product that fits perfect in our portfolio,” Nolan said.
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Nolan said acquisitions are part of the Wisconsin Brewing Company’s long term strategy as the beer industry matures in Wisconsin.
“As the craft (beer) category matures, there’s going to be many more deals that will happen,” Nolan said. “We have others in our mind, in our discussions, and it’s just a matter of lining it all up right. Nothing is going to happen in 2019 but we’ll see down the road.”
Porter said all Lake Louie employees will have the option to continue on after the acquisition. Employees may split time between different facilities after the deal.
“We may have an employee on Monday and Tuesday working in Arena, and Wednesday, Thursday, Friday they’re here in Verona,” Nolan said. “Tom’s going to be in a really great leadership role here.”
The Lake Louie brewing facilities will be used to innovate and develop new flavors as well.
“This will be converted over the next couple of months here into a research and development facility for Wisconsin Brewing and Lake Louie,” Porter said. “(We’re) looking to innovate new brands here and new styles.”
The final acquisition date is scheduled for July 1.