Boulevard Brewing Co and Duvel: A Huge Win For A Little KC Local Brewery

In KC News, New Development by EDCKC Staff

A Kansas City landmark may be changing hands, but not changing in spirit. In a deal that was just announced, the Duvel Moortgat Brewery of Belgium acquired Boulevard Brewing Company, a much-admired Kansas City institution. Boulevard owner and founder John McDonald said that he had spent the last few years looking at the future of his company, but had been very careful to find a partner that would share the values and ideals that had come to define Boulevard Brewing Company.

Like Boulevard Brewing Company, Duvel Moortgat is a family-owned and operated enterprise. They own several breweries in Belgium, and also already own and operate one craft brewery in the United States, Brewery Ommegang in Cooperstown, NY, which they acquired in 2003. They bring a substantial history of craft brewing experience to the table, and also an international distribution footprint that only partially overlaps with the 25 states and Washington D.C. where Boulevard’s craft beers are already distributed.

Boulevard Brewing Company needs no introduction to those in the Kansas City area. Anyone who has driven in downtown Kansas City will recognize the distinctive smoke stack and holding tanks of the brewery, and just about any local craft beer aficionado has a favorite Boulevard flavor or two.


As the 12th-largest craft brewery in America, and the 2nd largest brewery in Missouri, Boulevard’s annual distribution is around 180,000 barrels and growing. By comparison, Brewery Ommegang sells about 45,000 barrels a year, while Duvel Moortgat’s total holdings worldwide account for annual sales of around 700,000 barrels.


Both McDonald and the owners of Duvel Moortgat are quick to say that there won’t be a big immediate change in the day-to-day operations of Boulevard Brewing Company. Michael Moortgat, one of three brothers who own Duvel Moortgat, said that none of the employees at Boulevard would lose their jobs, and that the KC-based sales and management team would grow to around 60. The Boulevard Brewing Company’s famous downtown brewery already has the capacity to produce up to 240,000 barrels a year, and could be expanded to produce as much as 600,000 with additional infrastructure and fermentation tanks. The owners of Duvel Moortgat say that they’re planning to invest heavily in the Boulevard Brewing Company, and, as they’ve done with their acquisitions in the past, continue to respect Boulevard’s specificity, traditions, and authenticity.


American craft beers have been growing in popularity not just across the country, but also in Europe. The acquisition of Boulevard Brewing Company by Duvel Moortgat will allow the Kansas City brewery to expand into European markets, as well as up-and-coming craft beer markets like China and Japan.


Boulevard Brewing Company is already a Kansas City success story. Founded in 1989, the local brewery grew rapidly to become a significant and recognized brand across the Midwest and beyond. Famously committed to sustainable initiatives, Boulevard’s founder and owner John McDonald also co-founded Ripple Glass, a successful local glass recycling company. He says that with the acquisition by Duvel Moortgat, Boulevard Brewing Company has a chance to expand while still honoring the basic principles that made it what it is today.


More than just the culmination of a local success story, the deal is one more indication of an increased interest in investing and entrepreneurial spirit in Kansas City that has the potential to signal a swell in economic development for the region. Just a few weeks ago, the Kansas City Chamber of Commerce and Think Big Partners joined forces to host the iKC Unconference at the H&R Block World Headquarters in downtown KC, an open-format meeting of minds for investors, innovators, and entrepreneurs in the area.

Kansas City has already seen an increase in small businesses and startups in recent years, and the acquisition and possible expansion of the Boulevard Brewing Company should mean a new influx of capital into the metro area, which can only mean good things for local businesses, any one of which might be the next big Kansas City success story.

Photos courtesy of Boulevard Brewing Company