Good People Acquires Twice-Sold Avondale Brewing

Austin Ray
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One Alabama craft brewery has seen its ownership change hands twice over the last three days. Last week, Good People Brewing of Birmingham, Alabama announced it had acquired Avondale Brewing’s equipment and assets. The sale was actually the final piece of a broader transaction, however, as Avondale Brewing was one of several neighboring businesses purchased on Saturday by the real estate development firm Orchestra Partners through its subsidiary arm, Avondale Holdings.

Reached by GBH, Good People director of marketing Lauren McCurdy explained the chain of events, clarifying that while Orchestra Partners was interested in buying up the block of properties, which, in addition to Avondale Brewing, included a number of restaurants, it “didn’t really want to operate the brewery side of things” associated with the strip.

“So we essentially bought the brewery and its assets from them,” she says. “It really was an opportunity.”

Going forward, Good People says in a statement that it plans to “continue to build upon the already established success” of Avondale. Which is to say: the company’s name and location will remain unchanged. Furthermore, McCurdy says Good People has offered to keep Avondale’s entire staff on board, adding the company is hoping to avoid any turnover.

But that doesn’t mean that nothing is changing for either company. Together now, McCurdy says the two companies offer different enough portfolios that they can co-exist as complementing brands rather than marketplace competitors. Indeed, in addition to its flagship portfolio, Avondale operates a neighboring Sour Room, which is now also under Good People’s control.

“They have a totally different demographic and know exactly how to hit them,” McCurdy says. “We wouldn’t have been able to do that from scratch.”

Stuart Carter, of Free the Hops, an Alabama-based beer industry advocacy group, offered up an outsider’s perspective on the deal and reiterated that sentiment, adding that he believes the deal “makes huge sense.”

“Avondale hits a different market segment than GP does, so it extends GP’s reach in their home market,” he tells GBH. “They also acquire a fully working alternate production facility without having to build it themselves.”

Good People, already Alabama’s largest brewery, says this portfolio diversification will be apparent in more ways than one. McCurdy says the long term hope is to be able to serve Good People product at Avondale’s facility as well as Avondale product at Good People’s. Because of Alabama law, however, she says that means they will have to figure out a way to actually brew each company’s respective beer at the other’s facility. There isn’t a definitive timeline for when the two might start serving one another’s beer, but McCurdy says they’re exploring tank space feasibilities as they relate to both companies’ brewing schedules.

As for why now was the right time for Avondale to sell, minority owner Chris Donaldson and principle owner Coby Lake are teaming up to open a new brewery in an emerging entertainment district in Trussville, about 17 miles from Birmingham.

“I didn’t want competing breweries,” Lake told the Trussville Tribune of the new project last week. “I want to have something authentic and unique to Trussville Downtown, something that the people of Trussville can call their own.”

Reached by GBH, Donaldson added his personal ties to Trussville paired with the opportunity to do business there made it the “right time” to sell his stake in Avondale.

“I currently live in Trussville, my wife works for the school system, my kids go to Trussville schools, and I went to high school about 10 miles away,” he tells GBH. “It was an easy decision to invest there. I sincerely wish Hunter Renfroe with Orchestra Properties and everyone at Good People the best of luck. I know they are the right team to continue Avondale's story.”

Lake is also developing a pair of restaurants in Trussville's entertainment district, which will also house the unrelated Slag Heap Brewery.

—Dave Eisenberg