Monday, April 1, 2013

Lagunitas Buys Dr. Bronner's Soap Company

The last few years have seen explosive growth for beloved California brewer Lagunitas.  This Beerpulse article says production increased by 50% from 2011 to 2012, after a 56% jump in sales the previous year; Lagunitas owner Tony Magee noted on Twitter that January's sales were up 72% from the previous year.  All that growth is before the company's new production facility in Chicago has even been finished.

Now the eccentric beer company is branching out in a completely unexpected direction by acquiring Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps, the iconoclastic family-run company that produces the Dr. Bronner's line of soaps that have long been a favorite of campers and hippies everywhere.  As a kind of intramural collaboration/consummation, Lagunitas is paying homage to Dr. Bronner's famous peppermint liquid soap by brewing a special amber ale called 18-in-1 Hemp Peppermint Pure-Castile Ale -- yes, dry-hopped with fresh peppermint.  That's the same name as the soap, except for "ale" of course, and the label lovingly imitates Dr. Bronner's jumbled spiritual exhortations -- which are not all that different from some of the rambling musings on Lagunitas bottles and six-pack holders, come to think of it.  Click on the image to enlarge it and see if you can find the beer-specific verses that have been added to the ale label.

Apart from similar styles of prose, products known as "suds", nonconformist founders, and a shared interest in hemp products, what could possibly have brought these two companies together?  Apparently some of the current generation of Bronner soapmakers wanted to add a hop-infused soap to their product line, and being fans of Lagunitas beers, reached out to the brewers in Petaluma for advice on hop-oil extraction and handling.  A kind of mutual admiration developed, and since absolute cleanliness is 99% of brewing success, Lagunitas popped the question of corporate matrimony.  Dr. Bronner's will keep its name as a wholly-owned subsidiary, and the current management of the soap company will stay on board.  The deep pockets of Lagunitas will help the soapmakers enter into new markets and finance new product development, such as the hop soap mentioned above.

Given the rapid growth of Lagunitas, you could also imagine that Dr. Bronner's location in Southern California was attractive to the brewer.  Once they wrap up the Midwest with their new Chicago brewery, perhaps they'll use their soap factory as a stepping stone towards building a San Diego brewing facility.

I haven't particularly cared for the few mint beers I've tried to date, though I do have a soft spot for peppermint.  As a longtime fan of both Dr. Bronner's and Lagunitas, I am really looking forward to trying the 18-in-1.  Let me know if you try it, and don't forget -- in the immortal words of Dr. Bronner -- KEEP OUT OF EYE!  OK!

(Thanks to @MoralABC for the image.)


  1. I'm glad to see the holiday brought you out of semi-retirement. Nice job!

  2. Thanks, Jeff. I plot these things months ahead of time, I was hoping for a little more excitement than I got, but maybe this isn't as funny to most people as I thought it would be.


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