Wild Rose Brewery agrees to be acquired by Sleeman

Alberta’s craft beer industry is about to get shaken up as one of the most well-known brands in the province will soon be acquired by the third-largest brewing company in Canada.

Shareholders of Calgary-based Wild Rose Brewery voted on Thursday in favour of accepting an offer by Sleeman Breweries. Local experts believe it’s the first time a craft brewer in Alberta has been purchased by a large multinational company. 

The deal was announced Friday morning and will become official at the end of the month.

At this point, the plan is for Wild Rose beer to continue to only be sold in Alberta. (Kyle Bakx/CBC)

After beginning in a garage more than two decades ago and eventually converting a Quonset hut on a former military base in the city into a microbrewery, Wild Rose will now be owned by Sleeman, which is a part of Sapporo Holdings Ltd. of Japan.

“We know that this partnership will bring a wealth of opportunities for us to succeed together as we move forward with the support of Sleeman’s resources and industry insights,” said Wild Rose chief executive Bill McKenzie, in a statement.

“We feel there is a strong connection between the way we’ve crafted our culture and the way Sleeman does business, and we are excited about our new joint vision for taking the growth of the Wild Rose brand to the next level,” he said.

Both breweries said this deal provides an opportunity to accelerate their growth in Alberta.

“We recognize that Alberta is a province with high growth potential and see a number of synergies between Wild Rose and Sleeman that make this partnership extremely exciting for both organizations,” said Jesse Hanazawa, chief executive of Sleeman Breweries, in a statement.

While Wild Rose will no longer be independent, the company said it will keep using the same ingredients and recipes. At this point, the brewer will continue to focus on the Alberta market, but will look at sales outside of the province in the future.

There are no plans for Wild Rose’s brewery in Calgary to start brewing Sleeman products, the companies said.

The value of the deal was not disclosed.

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