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Saint Archer Sells to MillerCoors

Beer giant MillerCoors buys a majority stake of SD craft brewer, Saint Archer

By Troy Johnson

Saint Archer Sells to MillerCoors

Saint Archer Sells to MillerCoors

Saint Archer partner and pro surfer, Taylor Knox (left) with co-founder Josh Landan

We knew they had a good business model. Which was: include pro surfers, skaters, snowboarders and associated cool-sport icons as partners in your craft beer enterprise. Make good craft beer, then have those partners promote it through social media and show up for parties. That’s how San Diego-based Saint Archer became a cultural phenomenon. And now it’s paid off, big time. Rumors had been floating for weeks that the company was being acquired by national beer giant MillerCoors. Today their craft division, called Tenth and Blake, announced it has acquired a majority stake in Saint Archer. No hard reports on the money exchanged, but we’ve heard rumors that it was in the $75 million ballpark. If true, and figuring Saint Archer was started in 2013, that’s not too shabby for two years of work. Now, can you call Saint Archer craft beer anymore? No. But will the beer get worse somehow? Probably not, since that’s not in MillerCoors’ interest. Or maybe so, if they start cutting corners to increase profit margin. Who knows. Saint Archer co-founder Josh Landan is staying on with the company, which is not uncommon when a big company buys a smaller one. Let the craft beer brain trust debate Saint Archer’s cool status. Retirement party at Tavarua!

Longtime San Diego restaurateur Alex Thao has announced he’s closing three of his restaurants Downtown: Rama, Lucky Liu’s and Saja. Rama had been an attraction in Downtown for 13 years. But, judging by Thao’s post to Facebook, the landlord was asking more than Thao was willing to pay. “Business was good, but our lease expired,” says Thao. “Efforts over several months to negotiate a renewal did not yield sufficient terms and conditions. After 13 years in the Gaslamp Quarter, we elected to close rather than change locations.  Saja will also close on Wednesday to make way for a new concept from a new operator. Meanwhile, at Lucky Lui’s, we are transferring management responsibilities. Beyond San Diego, our projects in Manhattan and Los Angeles are also in good hands with new operators and management.” Thao will now focus all of his San Diego resources on his Vietnamese restaurant in the Gaslamp, Sovereign Kitchen + Bar.

I’ve talked a lot in this space about responsible sourcing of meat—from animals that are given room to live (pastured), not pumped full of drugs, and fed healthy food. Why? There are plenty of health and environmental reasons, most related to the fact that Big Meat often uses CAFOs (Contained Animal Feeding Operations). It boils down to this: We are what we eat. Meat from drugged-up, stressed out, poorly kept CAFO animals? Not terribly healthy for us, the animals or the environment. In fact, if I was being honest and saying what I’ve learned in serious research into the matter: Big meat is awful stuff. Animals are squeezed into unsanitary conditions, the environment is hugely degraded, the meat, well, has drugs in it. But maybe that’s changing. It was announced yesterday that massive (and highly criticized) meat corporation Perdue has acquired Niman Ranch, which many food people still considered to be one of the most recognizable names in responsible, progressive meat. (NOTE: Bill Niman sold his interest in the company he started to private equity investors in 2007 and eventually disavowed Niman Ranch meat since he couldn’t be sure of how the animals were being raised.) You could look at this one of two ways. One way is to assume that Perdue is improving the quality of its product and earnestly getting into the pasture-raised, drug-free meat business—a sector that’s experiencing huge growth. Or, conversely, you could see this as a meat company of questionable ethics attempting to “greenwash” themselves by buying a brand with a healthier, cleaner name. I would love to believe the former, but the latter would seem more in line with Big Meat’s track record. We’ll see as time goes on.

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