Jeramey Jannene

Last Call To Buy Milwaukee Brewing Company

Disposition firm seeking offers by May 25 to buy all or parts of brewery.

By - May 13th, 2022 10:48 am
Jim Hughes and Milwaukee Brewing Co. CEO Jim McCabe. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Jim Hughes and Milwaukee Brewing Co. founder Jim McCabe at 2017 groundbreaking. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

It’s time to submit your best offer to buy Milwaukee Brewing Company and become Milwaukee’s next beer baron. Bids are due May 25.

The 25-year-old brewery and brewpub were listed for sale on March 18. The board retained the manufacturing acquisition and disposition firm New Mill Capital to sell the company, either in pieces or as one entity.

“There was [a] huge initial wave of interest and a steady stream thereafter for both the large production facility as well as the Ale House and [intellectual property]. Over the last six weeks, we have been able to sort through potential buyers, provide tours and also additional due diligence material,” said Eric Weiler, New Mill managing principal in a statement. “With the amount of qualified parties currently interested, we feel it’s now time to move forward with the submission of offers which are due by May 25th.”

The sale includes the production brewery at 1128 N. 9th St. inside The Forty Two complex and the Milwaukee Ale House brewpub at 233 N. Water St.

“We put our heart and soul into this brewery, building it into the operation it is today,” said Jim Hughes, the primary shareholder, in a March statement announcing the sale. “We believe in the brewery and people who have been critical to our success but have made the decision to search for a strategic buyer to satisfy internal needs and secure the future of Milwaukee Brewing for decades to come.”

Jim McCabe launched the brewery as a brewpub in the Historic Third Ward in 1997, added a standalone brewery in Walker’s Point in 2007 (sold in 2019), and gained Hughes as an investor in 2010.

In 2018, the company opened its approximately 60,000-square-foot 9th Street brewery in a former Pabst distribution facility alongside a host of other tenants. New Mill reports that it is currently capable of producing 75,000 barrels per year and licensed for up to 200,000 barrels. Additional equipment for the facility was installed in 2021.

“Nicest Major Microbrewery Available in the Country and Positioned Ideally for Distribution,” says the New Mill listing webpage.

McCabe was replaced as CEO by David Hock in 2019, and the new CEO announced an expansion into seltzer products that would utilize all of the brewery’s capacity. But Hock was not mentioned in the press release announcing the business for sale, and the figures reported to the state and by New Mill indicate substantial excess capacity remains.

The latest BT-100 barrel tax report available from the state, covering March 2022, shows the brewery producing approximately 6,362 barrels. In the two months prior, according to the state tax reports, it produced approximately 9,336 barrels.

The company struck a deal to use its brewery to produce Florida-based Kona Gold’s Ooh La Lemin canned lemonade. A civil lawsuit alleges that Milwaukee Brewing contaminated 123,000 cans of the product with yeast, altering its flavor. But Milwaukee Brewing disputes the claim and says the lawsuit, which seeks $100,365, is unrelated to the sale.

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