Oct 17, 2013, 1:45pm CDT Updated: Oct 17, 2013, 3:01pm CDT
After founding Boulevard Brewing Co. in 1989 and turning it into one of the nation’s largest, most acclaimed craft breweries, John McDonald has sold his majority interest in the company to a Belgian brewery.
The new majority owner of the Kansas City-based craft brewer is Duvel Moortgat, a 142-year-old family-owned brewery based in Belgium. The brewery is most widely known in the United States for its namesake Duvel brand beer, which is a Belgian Strong Pale Ale.
Duvel sells about 750,000 barrels of beer annually, about 50 percent of which is sold in Belgium. By comparison, Boulevard sells about 200,000 barrels a year, 30 percent of which is sold in the Kansas City area.
Filled with emotion and looking like he just sent his daughter down the aisle to get married, McDonald explained why he made this move.
“I just turned 60 this year, and a couple years ago I woke up and started thinking that I needed to figure out what I was going to do with the brewery long term,” McDonald said. “Since then, we’ve been down a lot of different paths, talked to a lot of different people and looked at a lot of opportunities.”
About three months ago, McDonald started talking to Duvel Moortgat, which he described as one of the world’s most iconic brands.
“That type of beer is what got me into brewing back in the 1980s,” McDonald said. “I’ve always had an admiration for that brewery in particular and Belgian brewers in general. I even brought my own Belgian brewmaster over 14 years ago, Steven Pauwels.”
McDonald found the family ownership group at Duvel Moortgat receptive to acquiring the company. They agreed to acquire Boulevard Brewing for an undisclosed amount, and McDonald agreed to reinvest heavily in the newly merged company. McDonald will hold a minority stake and take a seat on the board. He’ll remain involved with the operations in Kansas City. Management and employment at Boulevard will remain intact.
James reports about banking, financial services, manufacturing and sports business.