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Catawba & Palmetto Brewing Acquired by Florida's Oyster City

Carolina beer rollups

Catawba Brewing opened its most recent taproom in Wilmington in February 2021
Catawba Brewing opened its most recent taproom in Wilmington in February 2021 (Catawba Brewing)

By Dispatch Staff

The parent company of Apalachicola, Florida-based Oyster City Brewing Company announced on Friday that it has reached an agreement to purchase the stable of Carolina breweries owned by Catawba Valley Brewing Co. of Morganton, North Carolina.

This means the Catawba and Palmetto beer brands as well as the Twisp line of hard seltzers will now be under the Made By The Water, LLC corporate umbrella alongside Oyster City’s Hooter Brown ale, Mangrove pale ale, and Mill Pond Dirty blonde ale.

Catawba Valley was founded in 1999, and at the end of 2017 it purchased Palmetto Brewing Company, South Carolina’s first craft brewer. That transaction gave the combined Catawba Valley company two major production facilities in Morganton and Charleston as well as tasting rooms in Asheville and Charlotte. It later expanded the Charleston tasting room and added another in Wilmington.

There are a couple of trends at play here. First, we’re seeing the founding generation of Carolina craft brewers getting to the age where they are ready to retire and hand their businesses over to someone else. That was the case with Palmetto Brewing, where founder Ed Falkenstein retired in 2016 and his successor, Larry Lipov, retired the following year after selling the firm to Catawba Valley.

A similar transition is now happening at Catawba Valley. Scott Pyatt will be staying on with the combined company, but his two co-founders, his brother Billy and sister-in-law Jetta, have decided it’s time for something new after 22 years. “One day you wake up and you’re sixty years old”, Billy Pyatt said in a statement. “You realize it’s time we knock some things off our bucket list.”

The other theme is regional consolidation, as private equity firms are beginning to acquire and combine what were once local brands into regional brewing powerhouses that include production, wholesale, and tasting room retail sales in their models. In this case, the firm behind the combination is Alabama-based Wiregrass Equity Partners, which acquired a majority stake in Oyster City in 2019. The combined company will now distribute its beer in six Southeastern states—​​North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, and Florida.

We expect we’ll see other regional consolidation moves in Carolinas in the near future.

About the Author

Dispatch Staff

The hardworking team behind the Southeastern Dispatch

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