The Oyster City Brewing Company’s parent company plans to merge with the New Orleans-based Faubourg Brewing Company, setting the stage for what the new company hopes will transform it into one of the largest craft beer producers in the United States, and the largest in the Southeast.
Apalachicola’s Oyster City is one of a trio of craft breweries, along with Catawba out of Asheville, North Carolina, and Palmetto out of Charleston, South Carolina, that together form the product lines of parent company Made By The Water, LLC.
The merger will see Made by the Water locate its company headquarters at the Faubourg Brewery in New Orleans East. The $30 million brewery, built in anticipation of stepped-up beer production, plans to quickly produce well over 100,000 barrels per year, according to the news release.
“This merger is about making New Orleans the cultural hub of the craft beer industry in the Southeast,” said Gayle Benson, owner of Faubourg Brewing Company. “I pride myself on making New Orleans first, and I think we can bring all of the best in craft beer from these historically strong craft beer areas in the Southeast and make New Orleans the primary focus of the industry.
“Our goal is to help New Orleans become as well known for its beer as it is for its cuisine,” she said.
Oyster City, a part of Made by the Water since 2018, continues to brew draft beer at its location at Commerce Street and Avenue D, as well as in Tallahassee down the road from Florida State University, where it has a sponsorship deal with the Seminoles, and in downtown Mobile, Alabama. Canning has been outsourced to a facility in Lakeland, as well as to a Catawba facility outside of Asheville, North Carolina.
“Oyster City wasn’t able to keep up with demand,” said Alexi Sekmakas, CEO of Made by the Water. “Faubourg has a large brewing facility that will take a large amount of Oyster City. And it will produce cans as well. Moving forward 100 percent will come out of Faubourg in New Orleans.”
Sekmakis said Oyster City, as the first craft brewery brought into the family-owned Made by the Water, has formed the foundation for the company.
“We took that culture and it became the unifying platform for all our different breweries; it’s the catalyst that brought them together,” he said. “Oyster City has become such a prolific brand that orders from outside of Florida have grown that we have not been able to keep up with. It’s our smallest volume but has been growing rapidly.”
Faubourg will continue to brew its full line of products and because of the merger with Made By The Water will increase and strengthen its distribution network, reads the news release.
Made By The Water, which is expected to also be the name of the merged company, has craft beer acquisitions that span four cities and nine retail breweries throughout the Southeast with distribution of products in North and South Carolina, Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Tennessee, with Mississippi expected to be soon added to the list.
Sekmakis said he sees the growth in capacity exemplified in the merger as further enhancing the reputation and exposure of Oyster City.
“First and foremost people in Apalachicola should be incredibly proud of what started as a grassroots company there,” he said. “People outside Apalachicola have gravitated towards the brand and the lifestyle that Apalachicola represents.
Sekmakis said Made by the Water is committed to “the integrity of its brands and the integrity of the products maintained. We have the same original recipes and the innovation behind the brands, the brewmasters, have remained consistent.”
“Because Oyster City has grown over these last several years, it allows us to be impactful in our communities. We continue to be as involved in the community more than ever. That’s a big pride point; we haven’t forgotten our roots with Apalachicola. When we see a can of Oyster City on shelves in Tampa or over in Mobile there’s a great sense of pride. Apalachicola is always featured very prominently.”
The new company is expected to add new brewing and manufacturing jobs as well as administrative positions in human resources, finance, sales, brand management, and marketing.
Sekmakis said the company will continue to draw on the strength of its staff in Apalachicola, including Adriane Elliott, who he said as general manager of the Tap Room “continues to have a great deal of influence. She handles merchandise with the FSU partnership, and her network of influence continues to grow.”
He also praised Taylor Brooks, Oyster City’s head brewmaster, who he said drives new recipes and innovations. “Everybody’s circle of influence continues to grow just as Made by the Water grows,” Sekmakis said. “This will be great for the team we have there.”