Adventure Brewing Acquires Blue & Gray

In the new craft beer world of mergers, acquisitions and buyouts, a purchase of one brewery by another in Fredericksburg, Virginia may not cause a lot of national ripples.

For the east coast city of about 30,000, the new guys in town have made a big move.

By the end of the 2016, the veteran brewery in the area, Blue & Gray will be phased out and Adventure Brewing, which opened in May, 2014, will take over completely.

The process has already started as the trio of Adventure owners, Tim Bornholtz, Stan Johnson and John Viarella, will assume duties after one more weekend of work for longtime Blue & Gray owner Jeff Fitzpatrick, who opened B&G more than 15 years ago.

For Johnson, this was a process the Adventure trio had planned from the beginning. Getting to buy an established company probably wasn’t in the initial plans, but it’s been a welcomed way to expand operations.

“We’ve been saving our nickels and keeping good credit so we could get a loan to get this done,” he said. “With a second facility we are running rampant trying to keep up with getting things tightened up for the way to do our business.”

Adventure, which had a 3 bbl system, will continue to operate B&G during the switch of control, while contract brewing their brands at the 20 bbl facilities until the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau paperwork processes, which Johnson ventures could take about six months. At that point, they will retire the Blue & Gray name. For the time being, both brands will be shipped and both distributors that are under contract will be used. Johnson is still getting a handle on where Blue & Gray is shipped to see how distribution in the future will work for Adventure.

Johnson added that some of the B&G brands will be repackaged for Adventure once the B&G name ends.

“Blue & Gray has done a great deal of work in the early years of craft,” said Johnson. “They had to break a whole lot of ground to get the distribution and the customers, and they have drawn with them a lot of a customer base that was adventurous 10, 15 years ago, but the brands aren’t as modern as a lot of the craft beer market is today. They have a lot of following and a lot of great beers, but beers that are more cult classics. Theirs is a customer base we want to work with, we want to service them properly.”

Blue & Gray lists 10 beers on its website which includes a Lager, an Irish Red Ale, and American Pale Ale, a Stout and a IPA.Adventure currently has four flagship brews, an IPA, a Stout, an American Pale Ale and a Hefeweizen, along with five seasonals.Johnson added that since announcing the sale earlier this week, the public perception has been overwhelming positive.

“Nothing but great response. On both sides,” he said talking about the customer base for both Adventure and Blue & Gray. “In fact, I’ve only seen one negative post among any interactions on social media. It’s been really positive.”

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