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Anheuser-Busch Buys Chicago-Based Goose Island Beer

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Beer giant Anheuser-Busch is buying out the iconic Chicago-based Goose Island beer company.

Goose Island announced Monday that it had agreed to be acquired by Anheuser-Busch, which is already the distribution partner for the local brewer.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780's Mike Krauser reports


Anheuser-Busch, the St. Louis-based producer of Budweiser, Busch and Michelob beers, reached an agreement to purchase the majority equity stake in Goose Island, or 58 percent, from the founders of Goose Island Holdings Inc., for $22.5 million according to a news release. Anheuser-Busch also agreed to buy the remaining 42 percent of the company from Portland, Ore.-based Craft Brewers Alliance Inc., for $16.3 million in cash.

Anheuser-Busch, in turn, is wholly owned by the firm Anheuser-Busch InBev, which is based in Leuven, Belgium.

Last year, Goose Island sold about 127,000 barrels of Honkers Ale, 312 Urban Wheat Ale, Matilda and other brands. As demand increases, another $1.3 million will be poured into increased production at Goose Island's Fulton Street brewery as early as this summer, the release said.

Goose Island founder and president John Hall will remain the chief executive officer of the company, and will still be responsible for Goose Island beer production.

"Demand for our beers has grown beyond our capacity to serve our wholesale partners, retailers and beer lovers," Hall said.

"The new structure will preserve the qualities that make Goose Island's beers unique, strictly maintain our recipes and brewing processes," Hall said in the release. "We had several options, but we decided to go with Anheuser Busch because it was the best. The transaction is good for our stakeholders, employees and customers."

Goose Island products will still be brewed in Chicago.

The Goose Island Beer Company was founded by Hall in 1988, as one of the first small breweries in the Midwest. Its original brewery and brewpub opened that year at 1800 N. Clybourn Ave., and became an anchor of the 1800 Clybourn mall, which also housed the Remains Theatre and an assortment of specialty and boutique stores and restaurants.

The mall closed in 1994 and most of it was demolished, but the Goose Island brewpub remained as a new shopping center anchored by a Bed, Bath and Beyond store rose around it. The brewery at 1800 W. Fulton St. opened in 1995, and a second brewpub, at 3535 N. Clark St. just south of Wrigley Field, opened in 1999.

The original Clybourn Avenue brewpub nearly closed in 2008, on account of rising rents in the neighborhood. But last-minute negotiations with the landlord kept it open.

Now, the future of the Wrigleyville Goose Island brewpub is in doubt.

The City Council approved plans last year for a massive new hotel, retail and residential development, called the Addison Park on Clark, on the block where the pub is located. The development would necessitate the demolition of the building that houses the brewpub and everything else on the block.

The two Goose Island pubs are not part of the Anheuser-Busch deal.

Goose Island beer is distributed primarily in the Midwest, but can also be found throughout the rest of the country and in the U.K.

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