Faxe Beer from Denmark
The craft beer scene in Canada reacted with interest to the announcement that Royal Unibrew of Denmark, a sizeable independent active in the Baltic and some other parts of Europe, has purchased Amsterdam Brewery in Toronto.
For further background on the deal, see this story by Rachel Arthur in Beverage Daily.
My checks indicate Royal Unibrew is the second-largest brewer in Denmark, making not just Faxe beers but Royal, Ceres and other well-known marques in its market. It also makes a range of non-alcohol drinks, and is increasingly active in the craft space.
Royal Unibrew is owned by a private non-profit foundation, Augustinus Fonden, together with a passel of investment and money management funds. Long a smaller independent on the Danish scene, a 1989 merger with other independent brewers helped vault the group to its present position.
My congratulations to all concerned with this deal. I have worked with the brewers at Amsterdam on the recreation of 1870 AK English Bitter, which resulted in some fine-tasting and historically compelling beer. I have only the highest regard for them, headed by Toronto brewing veteran Iain McOustra.
I wish them all the best, and all the staff at Amsterdam, for the post-acquisition phase.
Those in the beer world with long memories know Faxe beer enjoyed a cult status decades ago, via its Faxe Fad, an unpasteurized version of the beer. It was produced not just on draft but in cans and bottles, although whether that continues at this time, possibly in Denmark, I cannot say.
I and other beer fanciers in Ontario know, certainly, the imported Faxe Premium, a Faxe flagship, and some others in the line (e.g., Faxe Amber) imported for some years by LCBO or The Beer Store.
Now the prospect is clearly for Faxe to be produced at Amsterdam in Toronto. I will be interested to try the beers when that happens. Faxe Premium is all-malt, and perhaps will be sold here unpasteurized, whereas I would think the current import is pasteurized.
The Danish Faxe line currently comprises about a dozen beers including a Mosaic-fueled IPA, a stout, a black lager, and Faxe Gold, all-malt but presumably richer than Faxe Premium. Maybe these beers will be made here too, I hope so.
I hope too the core, high-flavour brews of Amsterdam including Boneshaker IPA and the seasonal Fracture strong IPA, will continue to be brewed. And other beers that represent its own, locally-valued tradition.
I am an optimist and look on the bright side of these deals. Nothing stays the same forever, in business, in life.
Amsterdam had a great run as a locally-owned, pioneering Ontario craft brewery – now it enters a different phase, one I will follow avidly.