California breweries Full Circle Brewing Co. and Speakeasy Ales and Lagers of San Francisco have merged to become what they claim is the US’s largest Black-owned and operated brewery.

Speakeasy will join the ‘Full Circle Brand Family’, which also includes San Francisco peer Sonoma Cider.

Full Circle said Speakeasy “rounds out the portfolio” with its “traditional” beer styles. It said NPD will also be a focus for the group.

Financial terms of the deal, announced last week (5 April), were not disclosed. Just Drinks has contacted both firms for further details.

Speakeasy CEO Ces Butner will step down from the helm but said he will remain on the brewery’s advisory board. Founder Steven Bruce will remain in the San Fransisco-based company’s sales team.

Butner said: “I am excited for the passing of the baton to the next generation of Black entrepreneurs in the craft beer space. I will continue to sit on the advisory board, and look forward to seeing the Speakeasy brand grow and evolve.”

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By GlobalData

The merger follows Full Circle’s acquisition of Sonoma Cider in 2020, which is also based in the San Fransisco Bay area. Full Circle acquired its namesake brewery in 2016, “revitalising” the brand and increasing sales by 5,000%, it said.

The group now has an annual production capacity of over 20,000 barrels or 350,000 cases.

Full Circle CEO Arthur Moye said: “We are excited to apply what we learned from revitalising Full Circle and increasing sales by 5,000%, to San Francisco’s longest running Independent Brewery. We plan to breathe new life into current brands, and expand its range of products.”

Meanwhile, Full Circle is also raising funds “to help close the access-to-capital gap that exists for Black brewers”. It has raised over $1m through previous crowd-equity campaigns to help Black brewers “jump to full scale production”.

It follows news that Diageo-backed incubator Pronghorn, which supports Black-owned businesses, reached double figures last month after adding four brands to the programme.

Greenwood Whiskey, Red Hazel Whiskey, TCapri Tequila and IslandJon Vodka were the most recent recipients of Pronghorn’s capital investment and took the total number of members of the accelerator to 13, less than a year after launch.