Redhook Ale Brewery, the craft brewer based in Washington State, and Oregon beer producer Widmer Brothers Brewing have announced that they are to merge.

The two companies already operate a sales and marketing joint venture, which trades as Craft Brewers Alliance, and this will be the trading identity for the merged company, the two brewers said today (14 November).

Kurt Widmer is to serve as chairman of the new company, while Paul Shipman, founder and CEO of Redhook, will be chairman emeritus.

Meanwhile, Dave Mickelson, currently president and chief operating officer of Redhook, and Terry Michaelson, president of the existing Craft Brands Alliance operation, have been named as co-CEOs of the new company.

The two companies said they saw the merger as the natural next step for two businesses that already operate partnerships in brewing, sales and marketing. However, the companies confirmed that, following the merger, the Redhook and Widmer beers will remain as separate brands in the marketplace.

"I believe that the merger will allow us even greater opportunity to deliver unique and great-tasting beers for our customers," Kurt Widmer said. "The two companies have a common goal: we both strive to brew the best possible beer for our customers."

Paul Shipman said: "Our combination of talented people, high-quality beers and first-class brewing operations presents tremendous advantages for the combined company. The two breweries have worked well together over the past few years, and I'm confident that we will be even stronger as one company."

The combined company will continue to be publicly traded on the NASDAQ under the symbol HOOK and will have management offices in both Portland and Woodinville.

The merger remains subject to shareholder and regulatory approval, and is expected to be completed during the first quarter of 2008.