Cascade Brewing Sold

Dear Client:

Despite all the uncertainty out there, deals are still getting done.

News came in last night that Portland, Oregon’s Cascade Brewing has sold to a local group of brewery and taproom owners. Financial details were not disclosed. Arlington Capital served as “exclusive financial advisors” to Cascade on the deal.

The “phased transition sale” of the pioneering sour beer brewer comes as founder and owner Art Larrance looks to retire. 

Art, an individual synonymous with the Oregon craft beer scene, said that after 20-plus years of controlling Cascade, “it’s time” for him to step away “and pass the brewery on to a team that’s fresh and full of energy and ideas.” He believes “this group will do Cascade Brewing proud.”

SO, WHO IS THIS GROUP? The new owners – Mark Becker, Ramie Mount, Brian Kovach and Greg Laird – are said to have “diverse experience involving brewery ownership, restaurant operation, and taproom management.” 

Indeed, Becker founded FlyBoy Brewery, a six-year-old brewery in Oregon; and Mount and Kovach co-own the FlyBoy Taproom in Lake Oswego. Meanwhile, Laird is the co-founder of Parallel 45 Brewing, a year-old brewery out of Independence, Oregon.

While there will be a shift in ownership, the brewer’s “production team and pub management” will stay on through the transition, and the “Cascade Brewing Barrel House, Blending House and Lodge at Cascade Brewing will continue to operate,” per announcement. Art will “remain in an advisory position during the transition,” before officially retiring.

“Our mission is to expand upon [Art and his team’s] vision, and we are incredibly excited for the opportunity to continue the legacy that Cascade started with its sour beer program in 2006,” Mount shared in the release. “Art is irreplaceable, and we are thrilled he recognized enough competence in our combined experience to continue Cascade Brewing’s stellar reputation.”


Today the Nielsen CGA Team presented a COVID-19 “On Premise Impact Report” during the Brewers Association Power Hour, focusing on the attitudes of consumers to take out/delivery “both from a food and an alcohol point of view.”

Their methodology involved surveying 1,200 consumers from the four states of New York, California, Illinois and Florida, over the weekend of March 28- 29. It also utilized sales trends from their RestauranTrak dataset, for the weeks ending March 21 and March 28. (RestaurantTrak covers 10,000 transaction-level POS feeds from mostly small, indy type accounts.)

Here’s the kicker from the whole thing: 

ALMOST 18 MILLION CASE EQUIVALENTS OF BA CRAFT LOST IF CLOSURES LAST THROUGH APRIL. Nielsen CGA Client Solutions reps Matthew Crompton and Matt Drummond made the sobering prediction that “if all outlets across the U.S. on premise are closed for March and April 2020” – which is probably pretty close to likely – “there would be approximately 17.8m 288oz EQ of BA Craft beer sales lost.” That converts to about 1.3 million barrels. A top five craft brewer wiped out, basically. 

Other key stats they found weren’t as surprising. For example, RestaurantTrak data and consumer research revealed that overall dollar sales velocity in their on premise universe was down 77% the week of March 28. Our recent discussions with BeerBoard, which also provides on premise analytics (skewing more toward larger chains), recently found 80%-90% volume drops across its universe in recent weeks. 

Another interesting quantification: The share of takeout/delivery in Nielsen CGA’s outlet universe increased. That’s obvious, but the specifics are revealing: Where pre-COVID-19 takeout/delivery share was 11% of the on premise, “Take-out is now key to sales for outlets that are still operational, growing by +110%” the week ended March 28 vs. “the norm.” 

In other words, “it now represents about 23% of what total sales were,” Matt Drummond clarified to CBD. “Essentially, what we’re saying is where there is no on-premise dining, restaurants are operating delivery/takeout at 23% of normal total sales.”

And how is craft faring in the current takeaway model?

First, a landscape: Two thirds of Nielsen CGA surveyed consumers have ordered takeout in the last two weeks. Of those, “15% are ordering take out/delivery with alcoholic drinks,” and “this behavior is more popular with younger consumers; one in four 21-34 year olds have ordered alcoholic drinks with take out.” 

The third most popular bev alc choice ordered with takeout is craft beer, after red wine, and then import beer. More specifically, “over half of those that have ordered alcohol with takeout/delivery have purchased craft beer,” per Nielsen CGA. 


The Brewers Association president and CEO, Bob Pease, sent a letter to the TTB’s Acting Administrator, Mary G. Ryan, on Tuesday requesting waived penalties on excise tax filings and payments for craft brewers. By Wednesday, as CBD readers know, the TTB released a plan to allow 90-day extensions for payment and filing deadlines.

While Bob’s letter alone didn’t prompt this move, it certainly couldn’t have hurt. A peek behind the scenes:

Bob emphasized the economic impact of the craft brewing industry, calling for the TTB to “safeguard these businesses and their significant economic contributions,” in his letter.  He also pointed to TTB policy deeming natural disasters as a “reasonable cause” for delaying payments and waiving penalties. “We believe a global pandemic caused by a previously-unknown virus surely must constitute a ‘natural disaster,’” Bob wrote. “In keeping with its longstanding policy, then, TTB should publicly acknowledge that the current COVID-19 crises qualifies as a natural disaster.”

As we reported earlier this week, the TTB’s subsequent relief plan includes the postponement of:

  • Tax payment due dates for wine, beer, distilled spirits, tobacco products, cigarette papers and tubes, firearms, and ammunition excise taxes
  • filing due dates for excise tax returns
  • filing due dates for claims for credit or refund by producers
  • filing due dates for claims by manufacturers of nonbeverage products
  • due dates for submission of export documentation

It is also “considering emergency variations from regulatory requirements for affected businesses on a case-by-case basis” and “reviewing requests for relief from penalties based on reasonable cause,” per its TTB’s circular.

Until Monday,

Jenn, Jordan, and Harry 

“If an idea’s worth having once, it’s worth having twice.”

– Tom Stoppard

———- Sell Day Calendar ———-

Today’s Sell Day: 3

Sell days this month: 22

Sell days this month last year: 22

This month ends on a: Thurs.

This month last year ended on a: Tues.

YTD sell days Over/Under:  +1