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Harpoon Brewery's Parent Company to Acquire Long Trail Brewing


Published June 17, 2022 at 12:39 p.m.
Updated June 22, 2022 at 10:07 a.m.

Harpoon Brewery Taproom and Beer Garden in Windsor - COURTESY
  • Harpoon Brewery Taproom and Beer Garden in Windsor
A big deal is brewing in the New England beer world. Mass. Bay Brewing, the employee-owned parent company of Harpoon Brewery based in Windsor, Vt., and Boston, Mass., has reached an agreement to acquire Long Trail Brewing.

Mass. Bay cofounder and CEO Dan Kenary confirmed the transaction, which is set to close for an undisclosed amount next week. As part of the deal, Shoreham-based WhistlePig will take over the facility of Otter Creek Brewing and the Shed Brewery in Middlebury.

"These are great, iconic brands," Kenary told Seven Days this morning. "We're very proud to be able to bring them into our family, especially as an employee-owned company."

Mass. Bay will begin brewing Long Trail, Otter Creek and the Shed beers in Windsor, but no other immediate changes are planned. The Long Trail Brewery in Bridgewater Corners will remain the Long Trail Brewery, Kenary confirmed.

Kenary cofounded Mass. Bay in 1986; he holds brewing license 001 in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The company — which owns Harpoon, as well as Catamount Brewing, UFO Brewing, Clown Shoes and Arctic Chill Hard Seltzer — opened its Vermont brewery in 2000. Mass. Bay partners with WhistlePig to produce the distillery's ready-to-drink Piggyback canned cocktails and several barrel-aged beers.

The move "puts more stakes in the ground for us as a New England craft brewer," Kenary said. "We have really deep community roots in both [Boston and Vermont], and we view this deal as an opportunity to deepen those roots."

It also brings together several brands from the same era of craft brewing: Long Trail was established in 1989, and Otter Creek hit the scene in 1991; they teamed up in 2010.

Today's beer scene is a "completely different world" from when these brands started, Kenary said. There were fewer than 100 breweries in the country when he launched in 1986; now, there are more than 9,300.

"These are beers your father and mother drank," Kenary said. "Like Harpoon, they've been around for a while, so they're not the shiny new toy. But there's a real sense  of pioneering in the industry — these are the folks that created the craft beer revolution."

Kenary and Long Trail CEO Daniel Fulham have been friends for a long time, Kenary said. While hosting each other for dinners over the years, Fulham would be sure to have Harpoon IPA, and Kenary would have a six-pack of Long Trail Ale.

"It's kind of fun to be able to be open about that now, rather than having to hide it," Kenary said with a laugh.

In a statement released on Friday, Fulham acknowledged their "shared commitment to the Vermont community and passion for making great beer."

"So when the time came to choose someone to take the helm at Long Trail, I knew Dan and the team at Mass. Bay Brewing Company would be the right choice to carry on and protect the Long Trail legacy," Fulham's statement reads.

Mass. Bay will move a canning line from the Middlebury facility to Windsor, which will increase production significantly at the Harpoon brewery. The deal will also increase production capacity for WhistlePig as it moves into the Middlebury facility.

"For Vermont, having Harpoon — an in-state brewery — purchase some of [Long Trail's] assets, and having WhistlePig — an in-state distillery — purchase other assets, it's a great outcome," Kenary said. "It's not someone from out of state buying it."