How to Buy Shares in Craft Beer Giant Ballast Point

An IPO is on the way for the makers of Sculpin IPA.
An IPO is on the way for the makers of Sculpin IPA.

Ballast Point is the latest craft brewer to put a share of ownership up for sale, but instead of selling to an equity firm or global brewer, this time the public can get in on the action. The San Diego brewery is currently preparing an IPO valued at $173 million and just filed a S-1 registration statement with the SEC to approve the offering.

The public filing doesn't offer much insight into the brewery's plans for the incoming cash. The filing vaguely states the sale will go to "working capital and general corporate purposes." It's likely, however, that the $173 million will go toward continuing Ballast Point's impressive growth. Since 2012, output has nearly quadrupled, and the award-winning Sculpin IPA — among Ballast Point's many delicious beers — is now available on both coasts and the Midwest. However, despite a distribution footprint covering 30 states, Ballast Point does admit in a risk-factors section of the s-1 that the brewery leans heavily on its Sculpin brand and that roughly half its sales are limited to California. New funds could help bolster their expansion east, says Sam Holloway, founder and president of Crafting a Strategy.

There's no set timetable for when Ballast Point shares, using the market symbol PINT, will be available. Three months is a common timeframe, but the process could be as quick as three weeks. The brewery can also choose to delay the IPO, once it passes SEC muster.

Ballast Point will become only the second craft brewer with public shares for sale. Boston Beer Company, maker of Sam Adams, successfully made its IPO back in 1995, ahead of the first craft-beer bubble. (The Craft Brew Alliance, home to Widmer, Kona, and Redhook, is also traded, but not technically a craft brewer due to partial ownership by Anheuser-Busch InBev.)

Compared to the alternative of selling equity privately, like Lagunitas and Founders, public shares will allow the company to retain more control, says Holloway. "It'll be interesting to see how consumers react. I bet it'll be positive."

Ballast Point declined to comment, citing an SEC rule prohibiting communication on a filing while it's being considered. In the meantime, we'll crack open a Grapefruit Sculpin IPA — recently named to our 100 Best Beers in the World list — and wait for the SEC approval.