MillerCoors’ Tenth and Blake Acquires Crispin Cider

I’m very curious to see how the Big Boy Breweries are planning to infiltrate the craft beer world, and on Monday we got to see another piece of the puzzle.

MillerCoors’ craft beer division Tenth and Blake just acquired Crispin Cider Company, a Minneapolis-based brewer of cider.  I’ll be honest – I didn’t know that hard cider was considered part of the craft beer world, but it is, at least according to Marketwire, which calls it “the beer industry’s fastest-growing category. ”  So there you go.  The acquisition makes Tenth and Blake the number three producer of cider in the United States.

Market wire had a quote from Tenth and Blake CEO Tom Cardella: 

“Our vision is to accelerate our portfolio expansion within the world’s most exciting beer market. With cider’s explosion in the U.S., we were looking at the best way to participate in that growth,” said Tenth and Blake President and CEO Tom Cardella. “As we explored the category, Crispin stood out, not only because they were the most progressive and innovative producer, but also because we shared great personal chemistry. In addition to the best cider portfolio in the business, we love their energy, creativity and unsurpassed innovation capability. They make us an even better company right away.”

Crispin CEO Joe Heron chimed in as well, saying the deal gives them the backing they need to take over the cider world!  Mwahahahaha!:

“We’re thrilled to be part of the Tenth and Blake family,” said Joe Heron, Crispin’s CEO. “We’ve always had very ambitious plans, and we’re proud of what we’re achieving with great products and an unrivaled creativity that mirrors the inspirational American craft-beer ethos. Tenth and Blake provides us the capability to scale up at the same pace as our increasingly accelerating demand in the U.S. and beyond.”

Crispin’s affiliate, the Fox Barrel Company was also part of the deal, so Tenth and Blake adds some additional interesting ciders to their portfolio, like pear, blackberry pear, ginger and blackcurrant cider and rhubarb and elderberry cider.

I have no idea what this acquisition actually means, because I follow craft cider about as closely as I Keep Up with the Kardashians, which is not at all.  As a matter of fact, I always wonder what the hell cider is doing mingled into the craft beer aisle – put it with the wine, or the Mike’s Hard Lemonade or the Zima, don’t muddy up the beer space! Someone might accidentally buy that crap and decide craft beer is for wussies – not cool.  I’m open to trying some cider, but it ain’t beer and shouldn’t be lumped in there.

Plans are for Crispin to be run as a wholly owned independent division.

The rest of Tenth and Blake’s portfolio is as follows:

  • Blue Moon Brewing Co. at the Sandlot in Denver
  • Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Co. in Chippewa Falls, Wis
  • 10th Street Brewery in Milwaukee
  • AC Golden in Golden, Colorado
  • Birra Peroni in Rome and Plzensky Prazdroj (Pilsner Urquell) in Pilsen, Czech Republic.

Tenth and Blake beers include Blue Moon Belgian White, Leinenkugel’s Honey Weiss, George Killian’s Irish Red, Batch 19, Henry Weinhard’s IPA, Colorado Native, Pilsner Urquell, Peroni Nastro Azzurro and Grolsch.



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Craft beer nerd, frequent beer blogger and occasional home brewer.

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34 Comments on “MillerCoors’ Tenth and Blake Acquires Crispin Cider”

  1. February 8, 2012 at 1:36 pm #

    Who are the Kardashians?

    • February 8, 2012 at 2:03 pm #

      God bless…god bless!

  2. oliver klosoff
    February 8, 2012 at 1:38 pm #

    They can buy up all the ciders. It will not bother me in the least.

    • February 8, 2012 at 2:04 pm #

      Funny thing is it’s making me interested in cider – if it’s worth exploting, it might be worth drinking!

  3. Rick
    February 8, 2012 at 1:40 pm #

    Ah, this is a much longer story. Crispin recently acquired Fox Barrel (in my neck of the woods) and immediately began an aggressive expansion campaign. In my opinion, overly aggressive, as many times the flagship ciders would not be available for purchase for retailers. I’ve been wondering how long it’d take for them to become an attractive enough buy for a larger entity, turns out it wasn’t long at all. They have good (very good) distribution (which is what I believe made them attractive) and produce a whole lot of cider (in 2010 they made more cider than Bear Republic made beer, if I remember the story correctly). I’m a little concerned what will happen to the little Fox Barrel facility up in the Sierra Nevada foothills, it’s not really conducive to low-cost shipping – at least, I don’t think they’d be. If you’ve never had one of the Fox Barrel ciders, might want to find one – especially some of their barrel-aged goodies. Not the best cider I’ve had, but it is damn tasty.

    • February 8, 2012 at 2:05 pm #

      Of all the stuff mentioned in the Marketwire article I used as my source, the Fox Barrel stuff sounded the most interesting. Perhaps Crispin was preparing for this all along…

  4. Tamre
    February 8, 2012 at 1:44 pm #

    I *almost* took a job with Crispin. I’m glad that didn’t work out now. Here are some cool things that Crispin has done – which turned me into a believer. They used Belgian trappist yeasts in “The Saint” which created a hazy funky really interesting cider. I had sort of written them off before that. They’ve also aged ciders in whiskey barrels, made them with honey (the honey actually settles in a layer in the bottom of the bottle then you shake it up to mix it before opening) and there their really dry Landsdowne cider that comes in cans and in my humble opinion, beats Strongbow.

    Until Greg Hall comes out with Virtue Ciders, Crispin is probably the best quality product on the market right now that is widely available. (Please don’t tell me about some cider place in Vermont that will never distribute past NYC, thanks.)

    • February 8, 2012 at 2:07 pm #

      Are you sure their won’t be more than cider in Mr. Hall’s product? I recall that when he’s gotta, he’s gotta go!

      • Tamre
        February 8, 2012 at 2:09 pm #
        • February 8, 2012 at 2:11 pm #

          You’re giving me the silent treatment now? 🙂

        • Tamre
          February 8, 2012 at 2:23 pm #

          I typed a comment! I don’t know what that is – your dumb website is being…dumb. 😉

        • February 8, 2012 at 2:23 pm #

          Yeah, stoopid-face website!

  5. Chris
    February 8, 2012 at 1:55 pm #

    Shame on you Jim. Cider is great, especially Crispin. It’s different than beer, but also way better than wine. It’s its own very unique category. I love the info from Tamre by the way.

    • February 8, 2012 at 2:08 pm #

      I think ‘d explore cider before I’d get into wine, but I still have so much beer to get to! Plus, I’m not anti-cider, I’m just anti-cider-in-the-beer-aisle. It gives me a wine cooler vibe!

      • Tamre
        February 8, 2012 at 2:10 pm #

        I think cider is an easier jump for craft beer drinkers than wine. I am okay with it in the craft beer aisle – that keeps me from the wine aisles!

        • February 8, 2012 at 2:14 pm #

          Makes sense when you put it that way. But why not have a station out in the parking lot with the cider and the mead on it?

  6. February 8, 2012 at 2:05 pm #

    Crispin’s entire add campaign, outside of things like “The Saint”, which was really very good, was based entirely on how well it mixes with other drinks. The stand alone everyday cider they produced was unremarkable. I would argue that Woodchuck is a far superior product.

    • February 8, 2012 at 2:13 pm #

      You could argue that, and I’d have to take your word on it. I know nothing about ciders or mead. Not sure if that’ll ever change.

      • February 8, 2012 at 2:16 pm #

        I would also argue that Crispin was SOO aggressive that they were simply set up TO be sold. It is a turn and burn. Build and build. Make a bunch of noise, and a big guy nabs you up. Sadly, the same thing happened to Magic Hat.

    • Tamre
      February 8, 2012 at 2:13 pm #

      I think Crispin Original and Crispin Brut (the drier cider) have a very clean taste and much less sugar than Woodchuck. I really like the Crispin branding and look and feel of the campaign. It was unfortunate that they chose to go mixed drinks route – that was a big mistake in my mind as well.

  7. February 8, 2012 at 2:09 pm #

    I think someone said it best on your Facebook page when they responded “Meh.”

    • February 8, 2012 at 2:12 pm #

      Yes, wise words. Whoever could have left them there? 🙂

  8. John King
    February 8, 2012 at 2:13 pm #

    I don’t like the cider Crispin offers, but I’m a huge fan of Dickens Cider.

    • February 8, 2012 at 2:13 pm #

      I think we’re all fans of that John.

    • oliver klosoff
      February 8, 2012 at 2:45 pm #

      It comes in a convenient ribbed jar if I remember correctly.

  9. Tamre
    February 8, 2012 at 2:32 pm #

    I’ve got an apple crisp recipe that uses Crispin, Jim. You want it?

    • February 8, 2012 at 2:33 pm #

      Sure – cider’s not beer, so I have no problem cooking with it!

  10. February 8, 2012 at 3:40 pm #

    Beer is a beverage of the people as is cider. For many years cider was THE drink of the American commoner. The trees that Johnny Appleseed assiduously sowed and sold across America were for cider apples (absolutely inedible but ferment well) not eating apples. So bottom line, cider fits better in the beer category than the wine category–that’s why its lumped with craft beer. I like cider okay, but not as well as I do beer, but apple jack on the other hand!

    BTW: I tasted Heavy Seas’ Black Cannon black IPA on draft today as well as Sam Adams Alpine Spring and Duclaws Toffee Nut Brown Ale. I liked them all (this is the 2nd time I’ve liked a Duclaws Brew.) In my estimation, I preferred them in the order I listed, although the barkeep told me that the Black Cannon was the least popular. It seems that as soon as you describe it as a black IPA most customers say no. It also is not particularly carbonated, ergo little head, which would turn some folks off. All in all, I’d say its a good choice for a winter IPA, not terribly hoppy, but very drinkable (7.25 ABV)

    • February 8, 2012 at 3:43 pm #

      So cider is for the proletariat and belongs with the drink of the people, eh? Interesting.

      Also, I enjoy black IPA’s in the winter. They taste great (especially 21st Amendment’s Back in Black) and they look the part of “winter beer.”

      • February 8, 2012 at 3:59 pm #

        Yep, we proletarians have to stick together!

        • ScottG
          February 9, 2012 at 7:55 am #

          Love pretty much everything Heavy Seas makes. Especially liked the Dubbel Cannon and, as recommended on this blog, aged a couple of bottles for about 8 months while the Army sent me elsewhere. It kind of mellowed out and balanced the aggressive hopping nicely.
          I’m not sure if you can get Port City’s brews where you are, but their porter is delectable.

        • February 9, 2012 at 2:49 pm #

          Hey Scott, let ’em age while your on extended TDY huh? That’s about the only way a beer would last that long in my house (LOL.) Hopefully, you had access to something drinkable to keep you from missing those babies too much.

          I don’t recall seeing Port City anywhere around here, but I’ll keep my eyes peeled.

        • ScottG
          February 10, 2012 at 5:19 pm #

          Exactly. You know what they say “Absence makes the beer last longer.” Or something like that. Another trick is to just make sure I have copious amounts of other beers to distract me from those I’m aging. In that case, it’s just the discipline to make regular beer runs. Not exactly a terrible task.
          And I did actually have an excellent selection of beers, considering where I was.


  1. Much Ado About Nothing « Building International Coalitions Through Beer and Pavement - February 14, 2012

    […] Some people worry about the silliest of things. It seems another craft brewery (or cidery?) has been purchased by one of the big, corporate bad guys. The worry is that our corporate overlords will buy up all the good breweries and make us drink only rice-adjunct, industrial swill in cans. […]

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