Santa Barbara’s Telegraph Brewing Company was sold today, December 6, to Epic Brewing in Salt Lake City, Utah. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but all parties say that it will benefit both brands. While Santa Barbara County wineries occasionally change hands, it’s the first time an out-of-town beer company has purchased a brewery in the Santa Barbara region.
“This partnership will allow us to nurture our deep California roots, retain and expand our amazing staff, and continue to develop our brand in new and innovative ways,” said Telegraph founder Brian Thompson in a press release on Wednesday morning. “My team and I are excited that Telegraph Brewing will remain a small, independent craft brewery and at the same time have the support and drive provided by one of the nation’s most creative, fearless, and fastest-growing breweries.”
The craft-brew world is nothing like it was in 2006, when Brian Thompson founded Telegraph in a Quonset hut on Salsipuedes Street on Santa Barbara’s Eastside. Aside from a couple of brewpubs, Telegraph was the first commercial craft-brew company in town, and now there are more than a dozen in the county. Nationwide, there were a mere 1,500 craft brewers in 2006, and now that number tops 6,000. Add to that the cutthroat pseudo-craft competition posed by the big beer companies, and Thompson, who will remain with Telegraph, started looking for a new solution earlier this year.
Epic’s cofounder Dave Cole, meanwhile, was looking for a California brewing company to expand his portfolio. “We have been actively looking for great breweries to purchase for the past 18 months, and bringing Telegraph Brewing into the Epic family is exciting,” said Cole. “We are investing in the future of Santa Barbara and are thrilled to have a direct and local connection to the amazing California craft beer community, where we share so much history.”
Founded in 2010, Epic now runs two breweries, one in Salt Lake City and a larger facility in Denver that opened in 2013. Collectively, the company brews 27,000 barrels a year and has increased distribution to 24 states. The brewery is known nationally for pushing the boundaries on beer styles, which has enabled its strong growth.
In the press release, Epic pledged to retain and expand the existing staff and grow brewery operations. Specifically, it will release several new 12-ounce cans under the Telegraph brand and move seven large foeders, or wooden vessels, from Denver to Salsipuedes Street so Telegraph can expand its popular line of sour beers. Epic also plans to release a new line of IPAs.
“This couldn’t be a better fit, including some advantageous distribution overlaps that create opportunities to expand both brands across California and beyond, “ said Cole.