Oskar Blues Owners to Buy Cigar City


The equity fund that controls Oskar Blues Brewery is buying Cigar City Brewing in Tampa, Fla., in the latest round of mergers and acquisitions in the beer industry. But what the the purchase means for the expanding Oskar Blues brewery in Brevard is uncertain, a company spokesman said.

Fireman Capitol Partners is taking over Cigar City but terms of the deal have not been made public. Cigar City’s highly regarded beers are not currently sold in Western North Carolina.

Last year, Cigar City founder Joey Redner scouted locations in WNC for a possible second brewery. Cigar City has “capacity restraints” in Tampa, Oskar Blues spokesman Chad Melis said. “Our number one priority is to provide (Redner) additional resources, whether that is financial or resources,” Melis said.

“Joey is very passionate about this business and wants to remain hands-on. His number one obstacle right now is capacity. That is one of the things we will be helping them out on. But what help will be, I don’t know.”

The Oskar Blues Brevard brewery is in the midst of an expansion that will ultimately boost its capacity to 200,000 barrels of beer annually. But Melis said he didn’t know if that brewery would eventually produce Cigar City beers. “We haven’t each reached the topic of brewing yet,” he said

Oskar Blues, now sold in every state except Montana, has continued to ramp up operations. It will soon open a third brewery in Austin, Texas, to join Brevard and the mother ship operation in Longmont, Colorado.

Fireman Capitol is becoming a major force in craft brewing and also controls Perrin Brewing and the Utah Brewers Cooperative.

The Oskar Blues Brevard brewery turned out 90,000 barrels of beer last year and looks to produce 105,000 barrels this year, Melis said. It is one of three major national brewers in WNC along with Sierra Nevada and New Belgium, which is opening this spring in West Asheville.k