MillerCoors Buys Fast-Growing Crispin Cider in Mpls.

Sales for Crispin, which launched in 2008, grew 200 percent in 2011-outpacing the cider market as a whole, which grew 26 percent during the same period, according to MillerCoors.

Beer giant MillerCoors has acquired Minneapolis-based Crispin Cider Company-a rapidly growing producer of European-style hard apple ciders.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but the purchase includes Colfax, California-based Fox Barrel Cider Company-which Crispin acquired in 2010. Fox Barrel produces various pear ciders and operates a cidery in Colfax, where Crispin's products are contract brewed.

Crispin launched in 2008 and has rapidly expanded its footprint in the hard cider category ever since. The company's sales grew 200 percent in 2011, outpacing the cider market as a whole, which grew 26 percent during the same period, according to Chicago-based MillerCoors. Crispin is now the third-largest hard cider producer in the United States.

Crispin's natural ciders use fermented, unpasteurized, fresh-pressed apple juice and are offered in three varietals-original, light, and brut-along with various unfiltered reserves and a classic English dry cider.

Crispin will operate as an independent division of Tenth and Blake Beer Company-MillerCoors' craft and import division.

“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,” Crispin CEO Joe Heron said in a statement. “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.”

Heron didn't immediately return a Tuesday morning phone call, but the Star Tribune reported that Crispin was available in 18 states and had more than $5 million in sales by mid-2010. The Minneapolis newspaper also reported that cider is a small business in the United States, accounting for less than 1 percent of the country's combined beer and cider market.

Breweries under the Tenth and Blake Beer Company umbrella include Blue Moon Brewing Company in Denver; Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin; 10th Street Brewery in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; and AC Golden in Golden, Colorado.

“With cider's explosion in the U.S., we were looking at the best way to participate in that growth,” Tenth and Blake President and CEO Tom Cardella said in a statement. “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.”