Ninkasi Brewing merges with Wings & Arrow, forms a new company

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A version of this story appeared earlier today on The Taster Tray. I also wrote that story.

Ninkasi Brewing, a regional-sized craft brewery based in Eugene, Oregon, has undergone three ownership changes in the past four years. The latest was announced yesterday. Ninkasi is merging with Wings & Arrow, a consolidated alco-bev company with a number of individual brands across a spectrum of the alcohol beverage biz: Ashland Hard Seltzer, Mucho Aloha Hard Lemonade, Villager Spirits canned cocktails, and Wings & Arrow beer. The resulting company is called Great Frontier Holdings.

The chronicle of Ninkasi Brewing’s ownership changes looks like this.

  • In 2019, Ninkasi’s owners sold a majority stake in the company to Legacy Brewers, which intended to become a sort of collection of craft breweries. The then-new company had already acquired breweries like Laurelwood Brewing of Oregon and Aspen Brewing of Colorado. Ownership change number 1, Ninkasi jumped aboard Legacy Brewers.
  • About a year later, Legacy Brewers and Ninkasi signed a separation agreement. Essentially, Ninkasi’s founders bought the company back. Ownership change number 2, Jamie Floyd and Nikos Ridge bought the brewery back.
  • This week came the announcement of ownership change number 3: the merger with Wings & Arrow, and the founding of Great Frontier Holdings. Ninkasi’s founders will have a role in the new company.

The new company, Great Frontier Holdings, will become one of the largest independent alcohol beverage producers in the Western USA. The brewery now becomes part of a larger company diversified across the alcohol industry, which should provide Ninkasi with something of a safe harbor.


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Navigating the craft beer biz has proven itself a difficult task lately, especially for companies of a certain size, like Ninkasi Brewing. Like many others, Ninkasi is trying to find firm footing on the shifting landscape.

Founded in 2006, Ninkasi’s production volume peaked in 2015 at about 110,000 barrels per year. By 2022, that number dropped to about 61,000 barrels. Even at that “smaller” size, it is what we call a large regional craft brewery (our own definition). Ninkasi’s distribution footprint includes all of the Western U.S. and some of Western Canada. For all of its products, Great Frontier intends to push its distribution footprint deeper into those regions.


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“We’re uniquely positioned to grow our existing portfolio in the West, incubate new brands, and potentially acquire others as things progress,” said Josh Landan, CEO of Great Frontier Holdings.

One of the great things about craft breweries is that each is a unique entity. To a certain extent, each craft brewery exists in its own universe, with its own way of fitting into its local and regional market. As we said a couple of weeks ago, it’s time for craft beer to create its own version of “the new normal.” In these dynamic times, what works for Ninkasi Brewing may not work for any other brewery. If it works for them, that’s great.

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Moving forward, remember there’s no defined path, no roadmap or playbook. You do you. We won’t judge.



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