Anderson Valley, a Booneville-based craft brewing company best known for its Boont Amber Ale, was sold this week — but unlike some recent changes-of-hands, the beer company will retain its “craft” status.
Since its founding 1987, the Anderson Valley Brewing Company has operated independently and in small batches, two of the chief factors that allow a beer company to be considered “craft” — a designation that for many drinkers signals superiority to mass-market brews that, say, advertise during the Super Bowl or are featured at the endcap of one’s local big-box retailer.
When small beer companies like Anderson Valley are sold to bigger businesses — as San Francisco’s Magnolia Brewing Company was last month, when Kirin acquired its owner, New Belgium — that “craft” designation is frequently lost. After its sale to Sapporo in 2017, SF-based Anchor Brewing — another recent test case — made business decisions derided by the Chron as “trendy” and jumping “on every possible bandwagon.” Not so for Anderson, however, as the buyer in this case is a wine industry veteran named Kevin McGee, a guy who’s also been making beer in his garage for the last 12 years.
McGee, a lawyer by trade, is known by wine industry insiders as a longtime adviser to Kendall-Jackson winery founder Jess Jackson, and became the CEO of wine brand investment firm Terroir Capital after its founder was indicted for fraud. In his off hours, he pursued a passion for beer, and for the past 12 years he’s run a one-barrel brewhouse out of his garage called Healdsburg Beer Company, producing IPAs, ales, and porters that have placed in the top three at the U.S. Open Beer Championships.
When McGee decided to move his operation out of the garage, he went shopping for a larger company — and Anderson fit the bill, he says via a PR-circulated Q&A, as he admired the brewery’s “long proven quality and authenticity.” That includes its well-known Boont Amber Ale and cult favorites like its line of goses, a German-style sour brew that Anderson offers in blood orange, melon, and cherry varieties.
McGee says he plans on keeping Anderson’s idiosyncratic beers in production, saying “we didn’t buy Anderson Valley to change it” but to “help it do more of what it does best.” That said, he is planning on one change: The Healdsburg Beer Company will leave his garage, he says, and will move into Anderson Valley’s taproom and brewery at 17700 Highway 253, in Boonville. There, HBC will remain “small and true to the original thesis,” McGee says, “but there will be more of it available in the coming days and years.”