The sale of South Carolina's oldest craft brewery has been sealed in a deal that brings two family-run businesses under one owner in a growing and fast-changing industry.
Morganton, N.C.-based Catawba Valley Brewing Co. said it finalized its previously announced purchase of Palmetto Brewing Co. of Charleston this week. Financial terms were not disclosed.
“We are excited and nervous, both perfectly proper emotions surrounding a deal of this scope," said Billy Pyatt, CEO and co-owner of Catawba. "But we are ready to implement our operational plan."
Palmetto's longtime Huger Street home will stay open and will be expanded as Catawba looks to triple the output at the newly acquired brewery. Also, the tasting room will be renovated and expanded to accommodate more beers.
Catawba said it offered jobs to all Charleston employees and began investing in improvements to the brewery in the weeks leading up to the sale.
The new owner is aiming to broaden the distribution of the Palmetto lineup by plugging the Charleston-made beers into its larger wholesale network across the Carolinas, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee and the Dominican Republic.
Palmetto Brewing was founded in 1993 and is considered the oldest craft beer maker in the state. It was expected to churn out about 16,000 barrels in 2017, up from about 2,000 five years ago.
Catawba Valley Brewing, which was started in 1999 by the Pyatt family, is slightly larger. It now operates four breweries in two states — one each in Asheville, Charlotte, Morganton and, now, Charleston. Each is set up to make any Catawba or Palmetto beer, and collectively, they can brew 50,000 barrels a year, the company said.
Once considered a niche, the craft beer business is the industry's frothiest segment, drawing most of the major players into the fold. Anheuser-Busch InBev, for example, has snapped up at least 10 small brewers in the U.S. since 2011, to the chagrin of hard-core purists.
Palmetto's previous owner was Larry Lipov and his family. Lipov is now Catawba's Charleston landlord.
“The opportunity for combined growth and shared resources will put both brands in a more competitive position to compete in the rapidly changing craft market,” he said after the sale was announced in November.
Palmetto had planned to move off the peninsula to property it bought near the Park Circle area of North Charleston. The company said it changed its mind earlier, after the Huger Street building it had been renting for the past 23 years went on the market earlier this year.