Dallas brewery Four Corners has been acquired by Constellation Brands, the beer third-largest beer company in the U.S. that owns brands such as Corona Modelo Especial, Modelo, Pacifico and, more recently, craft breweries Ballast Point and Funky Buddha.
Four Corners opened in West Dallas — adjacent to Trinity Groves — in 2012 but later moved to the Cedars, where it opened an expanded brewery and taproom eight months ago. The new facility nearly quadrupled Four Corners' brewing capacity, which is about to come in real handy.
"Constellation Brands, Inc. ... a leading beverage alcohol company, announced today its purchase of Four Corners Brewing LLC ('Four Corners'), reinforcing its strategy to lead the high-end in the U.S. beer market," reads Tuesday's press release. "Grounded in Texas roots and heritage, this high-performing, dynamic and bicultural (Hispanic and American) brand produces beer that’s refreshing, big on flavor and complements Constellation’s existing portfolio. With flagship brands like Local Buzz Honey-Rye Golden Ale and El Chingón IPA, Four Corners will join Constellation’s Craft & Specialty Beer Group."
Longtime friends and former homebrewers George Esquivel, Greg Leftwich and Steve Porcari founded Four Corners, and according to Constellation, the brewery's "standard of brewing will remain unchanged because the existing management team made up of Esquivel, Leftwich and Porcari, along with their current employees, will continue delivering the same innovative and fresh flavors consumers enjoy today."
"The heart of Four Corners Brewing is still here — we'll remain here," Esquivel told the Observer. "Stop by and you'll see the same faces."
In early meetings with Constellation, Esquivel said owners emphasized the importance of "not really messing with the mojo of the brand," he says. "It opens up this whole world of possibilities. They have a lot more resources from all angles to fuel the brand."
According to Constellation's press release, Four Corners' sales "have grown five-fold since 2014, and the brewery expanded capacity from 8,000 barrels in 2016 to 25,000 barrels in 2017."
Four Corners' acquisition is part of a larger trend of major beer companies buying small and midsize craft breweries in order to tap into the continually increasing craft beer market share. Locally, Revolver Brewing was acquired by MillerCoors in 2016 and Deep Ellum Brewing Company sold to Austin's Canarchy Craft Brewery Collective in June.
Acquisitions can be a touchy subject for beer fans who sometimes feel as if their favorite brands have "sold out" to beer behemoths that have been actively fighting against small, independent craft brewers. But these acquisitions can also help small breweries with expanded production, marketing, visibility and distribution.
"You got bought by big beer. This is supposed to be good news? Congrats your dreams were fulfilled. Now we can help the next guy. Bye bye," Facebook user Matt Miller posted on Four Corners' Facebook yesterday.
But Esquivel says it's not about selling out — it's about better futures for Four Corners' employees, many of whom have been with the brewery from the start, and families.
"I grew up here in Dallas watching bands like New Bohemians play Club Dada and pay $5 to get in," Esquivel says. "When they started going on the road and getting national acts, I thought, this is awesome. I get to see a band that I love make it big and be on SNL."
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Esquivel laments that beer drinkers sometimes don't wish for that same success — of "hitting it big" — for the craft breweries they love.
"Why do we shun success?" he says.
"Whatever you are working on for your family, for your employees if you have them, for your friends, more power to you," Esquivel says. "Best of luck to you."
Four Corners Brewing Co., 1311 S. Ervay St. (The Cedars)