Bintani Australia acquires HopCo

Brewing ingredients supplier Bintani has acquired family-owned and operated company Hopco.

Bintani, which recently announced the launch of its new Melbourne warehouse, has bought the Tasmanian hop supplier for an undisclosed sum.

Hopco, which supplies hop products and equipment to breweries and homebrew stores, was founded in 2001 by father and son team John and Sandy Ross.

The deal will see Sandy Ross continue on in a consulting capacity for the next six months and the Bintani team will be working to support HopCo’s customers in the transition period, explained Bintani director and co-owner Phil Meddings.

“Sandy and the team at Bintani have always worked well together, and helped each other out of tough spots,” Meddings explained.

“Combining our businesses has come up before, but the timing hasn’t suited either of us.

“But this time, the timing was just right. Sandy was open to it and we were keen and when we started working on it, it just made sense.”

Hopco has worked with hop suppliers and manufacturers such as New Zealand Hops, Crosby Hop Farm, Hollingbery & Sons, and Handtmann.

Its credentials in the hop world will bolster Bintani’s, especially with the introduction of NZ Hops to its portfolio.

“It is a good fit for the business in terms of our product portfolios and the hops we access,” Meddings explained.

“Strategically, hops are competitive so joining forces will mean we can compete strongly. We have the scale required to look after customers well with a good portfolio of high-quality hops.

“We also have a real belief in New Zealand hops and think they will see an upsurge in demand.

“US hops have had such an unassailable position in the flavour spectrum. But NZ hops have also been really impactful and unique, but not as accessible as we wanted them to be, so now we can add them to our portfolio and strengthen it.”

The acquisition marks the next stage for Bintani Australia which has been growing its footprint and capabilities in recent years.

Its latest warehouse expansion marks its fourth in Melbourne since launching in a backyard shed in 1995, and is three times larger than its former site.

As a result of the acquisition, Bintani will release the HopCo warehouse in Melbourne and work on moving stock to the enlarged Bintani site.

Hopco’s Sandy Ross explained the deal will allow him to move onto pastures new, but also keep a foot in the brewing industry.

“I’m feeling a lot of mixed feelings, there’s some sadness, there’s some happiness. It’s been an absolute rollercoaster, but it’s been great,” Sandy said.

“I started with dad in 1999, and we were part of Hop Union then which was swallowed up by BarthHaas in 2000, and that’s when we started Hopco.

“Even before I started, dad was selling to places like Little Creatures and Matilda Bay, and when I started we were selling to Holgate and Mountain Goat.

“So mum and dad are emotional too, we worked hard on it over the years even though they exited about five or six years ago.

“I’d love to thank a few people like Pirate Life, Hop Nation, Black Hops, more than I can name here, and the many individual brewers and legends I have met along the way,” Sandy said.

Bintani and Hopco engaged in friendly rivalry over the years, but Sandy is glad the company he and his father grew together is going to a good home.

“If anyone could buy HopCo, then I’m pleased it’s Bintani.”

COVID initially proved a difficult time for Hopco, but it benefitted from the growth of packaged beer.

“February and March were bad months for sales but April, May and June we bounced back well and found that everyone that was still in lockdown were doing a lot more packaged beer, there were no more kegs, everyone was going into cans and we were selling quite a few hops.

“The last financial year was not a bad year and we built the business up to a level I was comfortable with.”

Sandy will remain in the brewing industry though, in addition to his consulting position with Bintani, he will continue his work with Handtmann, a German manufacturer which supplies specialised equipment for breweries, as well as Slovenian company Brewtix, which manufactures small ‘plug and play’ brew systems for pubs.

“I know Bintani will be happy and I’m sure our customers and suppliers will be happy with how things develop too,” Ross said.

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