Duvel is taking a large slice of US craft brewer Boulevard Brewing Company

Duvel is taking a large slice of US craft brewer Boulevard Brewing Company

So, another US craft brewer has cashed in his chips. 

John McDonald, founder of Kansas City's Boulevard Brewing Co has agreed to sell a majority stake in the firm he set up 24 years ago to Belgium's Duvel Moortgat.

“Sell-out” might be the cry from some quarters.

But, beyond the inevitable gnashing of teeth on various social media platforms, the choice of who McDonald decided to cross swords with is an interesting one, in the broader context of the US craft beer turf war.

As the country's 12th largest craft brewer, with distribution in 25 states, it's a fair bet that Boulevard will have had its suitors. A brewer of that size, and potential, will undoutedly have appeared on the radar of the big boys.

But, from the sounds of things, McDonald, who will retain a minority stake in Boulevard, thought long and hard about who to sell to. “I wanted to find a way to take the business to the next level while retaining its essence, its people, its personality - all the characteristics that make our beer and our brewery so important to Kansas City and the Midwest,” he said.

“Duvel Moortgat’s commitment to quality and independence, and their proven record helping breweries fulfill their potential, made this a perfect fit and an easy decision.”

Stirring stuff, I'm sure you'll agree.

Does this talk of “independence” offer a sign that McDonald was conscious of the craft brewing community's on-going frustration with global beer companies “blurring the lines” between their products and craft beers?

By selling to family-owned Duvel, Boulevard can still claim to be a craft brewer, not a "crafty" brewer. 

Indeed, another quote from McDonald in the the wake of the news adds weight to this. “We shouldn't lose sight of the fact that Duvel was a craft brewer long before the term was even invented in the US,” he said.

With image all important among many of craft beer's core drinkers, I'd say it's a smart long-term move for all concerned.