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Heineken buys stake in craft brewer Lagunitas

The beer business was rocked by a tremor out of California Monday morning and it has nothing to do with the fault lines that exist there.

Amsterdam-based Heineken, the second largest brewer in the world by consolidated volume, acquired a fifty percent stake in Petaluma, California-based Lagunitas Brewing Company, the fifth largest craft brewer by volume.

While Lagunitas was rumored to be looking to sell a stake, the acquisition by Heineken of its first of U.S. craft brewery took some by surprise.

Courtesy Lagunitas Brewing Company

"We recognize and respect the tremendous success of Tony (Magee) and his team in building one of the great U.S. craft beer brands. We look forward to that same team partnering with us to expand Lagunitas globally, so it can reach parts of the world that other craft beer brands have not," said Jean-Franois van Boxmeer, chairman of the executive board & CEO of Heineken in a statement.

Lagunitas founder and Executive Chairman Tony Magee said the deal will allow the brewery to tap into the Heinenken's global distribution network "in places from Tierra Del Fuego and Mongolia to the far-flung Isle of Langerhans."

Lagunitas brewed just over 600,000 barrels last year and has built its business on the strength of its flagship Lagunitas IPA and other brands including Little Sumpin' Sumpin', Sucks and Hop Stoopid.

"Lagunitas will share in the best quality processes in the world and enjoy access to opportunities that took lifetimes to build. This alliance with the world's most international brewer represents a profound victory for U.S. craft. It will open doors that had previously been shut and bring the U.S. craft beer vibe to communities all over the world," Magee said in a statement.

While terms if the deal were not disclosed, it is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2015.

The Heineken/Lagunitas partnership represents the latest move by global brewer looking to grab a piece of the growing U.S. craft beer market, which reached double-digit volume share of the total U.S. beer market for the first time in 2014.