When news broke earlier this year that the directors of Little World Beverages, the company that owned Little Creatures, had recommended an offer from Lion to take full control of the business, there were a few sharp observers who asked what would happen to another of Australia’s favourite breweries. Little World Beverages was a 20 per cent stakeholder in Stone & Wood and, as such, if the deal went through then Lion would own that stake in the Byron Bay brewery.
Earlier this month, the deal did go through, with Little World Beverages becoming part of the growing Lion portfolio, the implications of which remain to be seen from a Creatures Pale-loving punters point of view. That gave the green light for the three guys behind Stone & Wood – Brad Rogers, Jamie Cook and Ross Jurisich – to make their decision. And today, they have announced that they have decided to buy back the 20 per cent and take full control of the business themselves, news that will no doubt cheer many in the Australian craft beer community.
“It was a pretty tough decision,” says Jamie. “But we’ve made a lot of tough decisions, such as choosing to brew every single beer we sell ourselves, with Stone & Wood. When we first heard the news that Lion had moved on Little World Beverages back in June, our initial reaction was that this was a chance to move away from that corporate world and stand on our own two feet. We couldn’t do anything until the deal was wrapped up so we had a month to do the final mulling.
“[When we formed Stone & Wood] the three of us left a big corporate to do our own thing; we were the first people to leave that company and form their own brewery in its history. It was OK to have Little World involved as they were still relatively small and didn’t really take a corporate approach to it, but having a multinational involved didn’t really work.”
So they three of them took the decision to invest more of their own money into the business, one that has seen them take the local – and, increasingly, international – beer scene by storm with their Pacific Ale. There’s no need to list all of its awards again here but, as an aside, we heard a story when in London recently about a landlady of a quality beer pub that had snagged two kegs of the beer and declared it the best they’d had at the venue…
Looking ahead, Jamie says: “There will be no difference here. Little World were quite a background investor so you won’t see any real change. Well, apart from us having a bit more debt in our pockets!
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