Lion buys Stone & Wood Brewing Company

Stone & Wood Pacific Ale is the only beer to feature on the podium in the GABS Hottest 100 Aussie Craft Beers nine years running

The Fermentum Family of Businesses and Lion have reached an agreement for the sale of 100% of the Fermentum Group.

The Fermentum Group is comprised of brands including the flagship Stone & Wood, Two Birds, Fixation, Little Dragon and Sunly Seltzer. The deal is subject to regulatory approvals.

Lion Australia managing director James Brindley said, “We have huge respect for what Jamie Cook, Brad Rogers, Ross Jurisich and the team have created; great beer, wonderful brands, spiritual homes in their breweries and tap rooms, an inclusive culture and a commitment to the community.

“We want to grow what they’ve started, giving their people and beers even more reach across the country.

“We have a shared vision of ‘Brewing as a Force for Good’. Lion is Australia’s first large-scale carbon neutral brewer and we will be backing the Stone & Wood, Two Birds and Fixation breweries to go carbon neutral as well. There are lot of areas where we can learn from each other.

“The Fermentum business will continue to be a unique player in the drinks industry and we are excited about the opportunities for growth ahead,” ended Brindley.

Lion to fund new production brewery

Fermentum co-founder and chairman Jamie Cook said the combination of timing and finding the right custodian to take the business forward made this the natural next step for Fermentum.

“After an extensive strategic review exploring options to set us up for future growth, we decided to test the waters on whether now was the right time for the founding families to find a custodian to grow Fermentum’s legacy, its people, its culture and its brands, and continue to drive the business forward whilst staying true to its purpose.

“We only looked for a custodian who would be committed to building the brewery and to support our work in the community. Not only did Lion welcome these ideas with enthusiasm, they demonstrated they have similar values and a focus on Environmental and Social Governance aligned to our “Force for Good” approach.

“Lion’s custodianship of Little Creatures, Four Pillars and New Belgium demonstrates they in fact learn from new businesses, and grow their impact and reach,” said Cook.

The Fermentum brands combined now amount to 17 million litres in annual beer volume, a one per cent share of Australia’s 1.7 billion-litre beer market.

“The next chapter as part of Lion will unleash full growth potential while maintaining the values and purpose so central to the business’ ethos,” the company said.

Cashed up Lion swoops

The deal follows a campaign initiated by KPMG on Fermentum’s behalf earlier this year, seeking up to $150 million in capital to fund the construction of a new production brewery on a company-owned site in Murwillumbah.

The sale of a partial stake, or an IPO, were expected to be the most likely outcomes.

But the process also generated interest from brewers including Lion, which had plenty of funds at its disposal following the November 2020 sale of its Dairy & Drinks business to Bega Cheese $560 million. 

More to come.

Also on Drinks Adventures:
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Brewmanity Beer Co opening South Melbourne brewery
Phil Sexton: Wine and beer entrepreneur – S9E3

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