One makes Five Pillars Ale. The other makes Collaboration 29. Now, two of Charlottesville’s most acclaimed breweries, each loyal supporters of the community, are merging. Champion Brewing Company and Reason Beer.
While both parties expect the merger to bring behind-the-scenes efficiencies, little will change for fans of their beer, they say. Reason’s Jeff Raileanu becomes Champion’s CFO. Champion’s operations will move from Woolen Mills to Reason’s headquarters on Seminole Trail. And, the breweries will enjoy improved buying, production, and marketing power. All the while, each brewery will keep making its same flagship beers, with the same brewers, recipes, and staff as before. Tap room locations also remain unchanged.
Among the ties that bind the two breweries is a love of Charlottesville. Champion’s founder and two Reason co-founders were all born at the old Martha Jefferson hospital in downtown Charlottesville. With Charlottesville in their blood, they are active in local philanthropy and share a drive to preserve locally-owned breweries. “With long-time Charlottesville connections and a real love for this community, the culture fit between Reason and Champion made sense,” said Raileanu. “It’s an exciting opportunity for two like-minded local companies to combine to be better together.”
The best news for local beer fans may be stability, particularly in an industry where over-saturation, consolidation, and COVID-19 have all threatened local breweries’ existence. With Champion launched in 2012 and Reason in 2017, the breweries’ founders hope that joining forces will mean they are here to stay. “It’s a path for long term stability for both local brands,” Champion founder Hunter Smith said. Raileanu agrees. “We’re nearing our five-year anniversary and it’s almost ten years for Champion,” he said. “By combining and streamlining our operations, we’re setting up to make the next five years even better.”
The deal will close in late November.