We haven’t written about any notable craft beer mergers recently, but here’s one of note—Deschutes Brewery, the #11 largest U.S. craft brewer by the Brewers Association definition, has acquired fellow Bend, OR staple Boneyard Beer. The acquisition is being phrased as a “joint partnership” for the sake of optics, but it’s a buyout nonetheless. Each company will continue to operate as a separate entity going forward. The two breweries call it “a unique, Bend-based, local-to-local, craft-to-craft partnership.”
The partnership makes a lot more sense, once one starts to dive into the history and backstory of Deschutes founder Gary Fish, and Boneyard Beer founder Tony Lawrence. Indeed, both grew up in Bend within a few miles of one another, and Lawrence worked for Deschutes for no less than 12 years, before opening Boneyard Beer in 2010. The former has been around since 1988, and remains one the most iconic and generally beloved American breweries of its era. The two breweries today operate taprooms less than a mile from one another in downtown Bend.
“This partnership is built on relationships,” said Fish in a statement. “Family- and employee-owned, our two breweries become a collection of inspired people maintaining their individualistic free spirit and undying vision for what beer can be. I am beyond proud of what Tony has accomplished in Boneyard and am thrilled to be working with him again.”
“I cut my teeth at Deschutes and it’s still a home of sorts,” said Lawrence in his own statement. “It was an integral part of my personal and professional journey. My experience as a 21-year-old snowboard transplant falling into the Deschutes orbit was amazing. It gave me a direction to follow and an opportunity in both Bend and craft beer. To combine forces with Deschutes in Bend and explore what Boneyard is capable of is simply a dream come true.”
In the last decade, Boneyard developed a reputation for itself as one of the best brewers of hop-forward beer styles in particular in the Pacific Northwest, led by flagship RPM IPA. Their year-round pale ale Bone-a-Fide in particular won the hearts of Paste blind tasters, winning a blind tasting of 83 pale ales and then placing #5 in a follow-up blind tasting of 151 pale ales two years later. We hope the acquisition will ultimately prove beneficial for both companies.