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California Craft Breweries Bear Republic and Drake's Brewing Announce Merger

The merger will see Drake's acquire Bear Republic's formulas and recipes, with production of the latter's portfolio shifting to Drake's brewery in San Leandro, California.

California Craft Breweries Bear Republic and Drake's Brewing Announce Merger

California craft breweries Bear Republic Brewing and Drake’s Brewing have announced their merger, according to reports. In a transaction announced last week, Drake’s will acquire Bear Republic’s formulas, recipes and intellectual property. The production of Bear Republic’s portfolio will shift to Drake’s San Leandro, California-based brewery in the coming months, while Bear Republic’s brewery is not included in the deal.

“We have always admired Drake’s Brewing Company’s passion for craft beer and their community as well as their commitment to quality,” Bear Republic co-owner Rich Norgrove told “Joining forces with Drake’s will allow us to bring our beers to even more customers, and we’re excited to be a part of the Drake’s family.”

Drake’s co-owners, John Martin and Roy Kirkorian, in a memo to partners, stated that the acquisition will not affect the brewery's “commitment to maintaining the high standards of quality and creativity that you have come to expect.” Bear Republic, formerly a top 50 craft brewery by volume, has experienced double-digit declines since 2017, with a total volume decline of 15% in 2021. Drake’s, on the other hand, recorded a 5% volume increase that same year.

With a combined 2021 volume of 70,214 barrels, the new entity is set to become the 39th largest craft brewery in the United States by volume, according to Brewers Association data. The deal marks the first craft-on-craft acquisition of 2023, following similar deals in 2022 involving Maui Brewing and Modern Times, Harpoon acquiring Long Trail and Otter Creek and others.

Both Norgrove and Bear Republic brewmaster Peter Kruger will remain on staff following the sale. Bear Republic and Drake’s each have a long history in California’s craft beer industry, with Bear Republic being founded in 1995 by Rich and Tami Norgrove and Drake’s being founded as Lind’s Brewing in San Leandro in 1989 by Roger Lind.

Drake’s plans to introduce Bear Republic’s offerings to new markets, beginning with a focus on flagship Racer 5 IPA, which accounts for 92% of Bear Republic’s volume, and Racer 7 IPA. The merger is expected to benefit both breweries and is set to increase Drake’s production volume, while also introducing Bear Republic’s products to a wider audience.