As beer industry takeovers go, it's a far cry from CUB's acquisition of Balter, or Asahi's acquisition of CUB for that matter. But today's announcement by Black Hops that they've bought Brisbane's Semi-Pro Brewing is another reminder of the ever-changing realities of craft beer in Australia today.
It's not quite like Gage Roads bringing Matso's under their Good Drinks banner, Tribe buying Mornington Peninsula Brewery, or the recent announcement that 4 Pines (CUB) and The Sporting Globe owners would be moving into the site of All Hands Brewing House. But it is a form of the sort of consolidation that's been discussed often as the number of brewing companies in Australia has risen at a rapid rate.
What it means in physical terms is that Semi-Pro's brewpub venue in East Brisbane will become Black Hops' third home – their first in the Queensland capital – with the 10 hectolitre brewery and 100-seater taproom taking on the Gold Coast operation's branding, beers, look and feel from October 26.
Semi-Pro owner, founder and brewer Mick Guy will remain on as site head brewer for Black Hops Brisbane, with co-owners Siena Perry and Shaun Stubley also still involved. But if any Semi-Pro recipes stick around, they will be rebranded as Black Hops beers.
Black Hops co-founder Dan Norris told The Crafty Pint the change has been in the works for a while; both breweries share an accountant and an investor so were in regular discussion.
“We’ve been talking to them for a couple of months," he says. "[Semi Pro] kind of raised it as a possibility and it was something that fitted into what we do anyway, so it seemed to be a perfect fit.”
He says they'd been keen to open a site in Brisbane, with the intention originally to create a barrel room there, but that's now taking place next to their Burleigh HQ under the AWOL banner.
“We’ve always wanted to go back there, it’s where I’m from and it’s the big city and where we started,” Dan says.
“We’re just going to try and make it very similar to our other breweries: lots of limited releases and it will have a similar look and feel if I can do that in a couple of weeks within getting in there.
“Mick is still going to be there, the taproom staff are still going to be, and [co-founder and head brewer] Govs is actually there at the moment brewing.”
From Mick's point of view, he said in a media release that the Semi-Pro team are "really excited about what we can achieve together in the next phase", adding he's "psyched to join Govs and the other brewers in the Black Hops production team.
“Everyone in the Semi-Pro family is so grateful to all the regulars and locals who have become friends, shared some bloody funny times, and raised a glass with us. We’re super confident with the Black Hops reputation for a great taproom experience, it’s in the right hands to take it to the next level.”
As for the future for the fast-growing Black Hops team, Dan says: “We’ve got too many projects as is so I can’t think of any more in the short term anyway. Maybe a holiday.”