River Horse Brewing Company, in Ewing, New Jersey has acquired DuClaw Brewing Company of Baltimore, Maryland.

The deal, struck for an undisclosed sum and announced by both parties on Friday (2 June) brings together two legacy US craft brewers, with both companies dating from 1996.

River Horse Brewing, the smaller of the two companies in production terms, will expand its brewery’s capacity to accommodate DuClaw’s national distribution. The fate of DuClaw’s Baltimore facility, and the future of those employed by the brewery in Maryland, remain unclear.

The brands will continue to be managed separately, but share production capacity and “certain distribution partnerships”, River Horse Brewing said in a statement.

“From the first day that we sat down with [DuClaw founder] Dave [Benfield] to discuss a possible combination, we knew that this would be a wonderful partnership.” said River Horse owner Chris Walsh. “Dave is one of the most innovative minds in brewing and is always ahead of the curve in his flavor profile formulations.”

“Dave is thrilled to transition the production responsibilities to the team in Ewing, NJ so he can give 100% of his attention to the part of the business that he truly loves, products, strategy and sales.”

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Benfield himself added: “The operations side of brewing is challenging, and at the end of the day I was spending too much of my time and energy chasing the latest mechanical, supply or logistical issue, and was taken away from driving the brand the way I wanted. This partnership will allow me to focus on what I am best at.”

DuClaw Brewing Company was founded by Benfield as Bel Air, a Maryland brewpub which gradually expanded to national distribution across 21 states, as well as international markets including Canada and France.

If the brewery in Baltimore closes following the divestment, it will be the third major brewing operation to be shuttered in the state of Maryland in as many months.

Last month, Flying Dog Brewery was bought by its US craft brewing peer FX Matt Brewing Company. Production of Flying Dogs beers will shift entirely to FX Matt’s Utica, New York-based production facility over the summer.

In April, Diageo revealed via Work Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) notice that its Guinness manufacturing facility in Baltmore County is set to shut down by 9 June 2023.

In a statement, Diageo said anticipates around 97 roles will be affected by the closure.

Last week, meanwhile, Oregon-based Ninkasi Brewing announced a merger with Californian hard seltzer and RTD brand owner Wings & Arrow.

The newly formed Great Frontier Holdings company will employ more than 140 people across Ninkasi’s existing restaurant, production facility amd other Oregon operations, and Wings & Arrow’s San Diego-based brand marketing teams.