25 Jan A Deeper Dive Into The Books & Brews Acquisition of Flat 12 Bierwerks
Many people were taken by surprise by the recent news that Books & Brews, LLC was acquiring Flat12 Bierwerks. Celebrating their 5th anniversary in March of this year, Books & Brews is a slightly younger brewery than Flat12 Bierwerks, whose 8th anniversary party is scheduled for this weekend (Jan. 26th), but Books & Brews has been growing by leaps and bounds in the last two years.
It is also news to some that there had been a close relationship between Books & Brews and Flat12 even prior to the purchase. B&B, under the leadership/ownership of Jason Wuerfel, had expanded rapidly – to the tune of seven stores in just 14 months, and this thoroughly outstripped their ability to produce beer at the mothership on 96th St. on the north side of Indianapolis. So Jason had entered into an agreement with Andrew Teed and Flat12 for them to contract brew the flagship beers and many of the seasonals which Books & Brews would supply to its corporate locations, its franchises, and for package beer.
As B&B gained more locations, it made sense in terms of cost and cash flow to acquire the assets of Flat12. There are nine locations currently, with the Speedway franchise owners choosing to close at the end of the month and go to another format. But also with additional Books & Brews franchises opening soon. Flat12 ownership, with which Books & Brews has always had a great relationship, was amenable to the acquisition. Andy has taken a small equity stake in Books & Brews, LLC, but mostly this was a deal wherein Books & Brews was acquiring the brewing equipment and physical assets of the company. The brand comes along with the acquisition, but it was a different legal procedure from an outright purchase of the entire company.
As for the way things are going to work post-acquisition, I sat down with Jason to talk about plans:
1) The Flat12 brand, taproom, and distribution aren’t going anywhere. In fact, Jason has plans to re-emphasize this brand both in the stores and on Dorman Ave.
2) The Jeffersonville taproom was never part of this deal. It exists (without making beer) much in the same way that Tin Man-Kokomo existed with Tin Man Brewing in Evansville before the original brewery dissolved into Falls City Beer under the ownership of their Neace Ventures owner.
3) The Flat12 brewing system is more than adequate to keep brewing all the Flat12 beers, expand on their portfolio, and make beer for Books & Brews and all the existing and coming stores and franchises. Even with all this they won’t be near capacity.
4) There are no plans to make staffing changes at either Books & Brews, LLC or at Flat12 Bierwerks. The history between the two breweries and amongst the franchises and corporate stores of B&B indicates that cooperation is the major hallmark. It is not at all unusual to see members of the corporate team helping out at franchises,; the idea is to have everyone succeed, and this will certainly apply to Flat12.
5) Books & Brews will once again start offering growler fills of their beers at all their locations. They had made a move to packaged beers and given up growler fills of their core five beers, but the acquisition and the increased cost effectiveness of the move will make growlers a thing again.
This isn’t a deal where one entity absorbs another and the acquired brewery is never heard from again. It also isn’t a deal where the acquisition is a money issue only, and the two entities don’t have anything to do with one another. The acquisition of Flat12 Biewerks will bring two closely working breweries even closer together, but you will still be able to see each as it’s own individual self. There may be a Books & Brews flavor mug club, but it will have a Flat12 spin. The brewing philosophies of each brewery will be maintained. It’s the best of both worlds.
It’s early, but make the trip to Flat12 Bierwerks for their 8th anniversary party this weekend (free to attend, but a package deal available here), and talk to everyone about the changes, or lack thereof. Jason told me he was surprised by all the questions and feedback, while I said I was surprised there wasn’t more hubbub. In the end, people will find that this is still going to be the Flat12 Bierwerks that people know and love. One hidden benefit to everyone – this will give the Ukuwailers another venue to play.