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August 22, 2022

Mikkeller Returns to Contract Brewing Roots in the US Market

After 6 years the famous Danish craft brewery will be ceasing operations at its brewery and tasting room in San Diego, California, but will continue its business in the US through contract brewing, which has always been one of the keys to Mikkeller´s global success. San Diego-based AleSmith Brewing Company will brew Mikkeller beers in the future, and Mikkeller remains committed to its product innovation in the US craft beer market and to service American distribution partners dependably and efficiently.

Two years of Covid and the difficult current rising cost environment have taken its toll on the international brewing business, and unfortunately Mikkeller is no exception. After operating its own 30,000 Hectoliter brewery in San Diego for more than six years, Mikkeller has decided to sell the brewery assets and return to its contract brewing roots.

“This has been a very hard decision for us to make and comes with a lot of heartache for the Mikkeller employees affected by the closing. The hardships facing the craft beer industry and the economy at large are known to anyone; supply chain issues, rising costs, and unstable market conditions post-pandemic just to name a few. Unfortunately, this means that it is just not sustainable anymore to keep operating our San Diego brewery,” Mikkeller founder Mikkel Bjergsø explains. He emphasizes that Mikkeller will still remain committed to distributors, customers and partners in the US.

A return to the contract brewing roots

The Mikkeller brand will go back to its roots of brewing in the US as a contract brewery. This is nothing new for the company; contract brewing has been one of the keys to Mikkeller’s global success, as the company started contract brewing in 2006 and still contract brews over 90% of the beer it sells globally. Mikkeller’s key value proposition has always been based on its strong brand, quality beers, unique recipes, inventive collaborations and iconic art - all of which the company remains committed to continuing as a contract brewery in America.

To execute on this vision, Mikkeller has created a long-term partnership with San Diego’s iconic AleSmith Brewing Company to continue contract brewing its award-winning portfolio of beers for the US market. Mikkeller’s collaboration and friendship with AleSmith goes back many years, as AleSmith Founder Peter Zien and Mikkeller founder Mikkel Bjergsø began collaborating on beers in 2007, which ultimately led to Mikkeller’s purchase of AleSmith’s first brewery in 2016 – which was turned into Mikkeller Brewing San Diego.

"The one thing that makes the craft beer community different from so many other industries is the willingness to collaborate, help each other in hard times, and grow together. We built this company on that kind of cooperation from the very beginning over 15 years ago and moving forward will be no different,” Bjergsø says.

Mikkeller will continue its product innovation in the US craft beer market, including launching a US-brewed version of its famous non-alcoholic beers Drink’in the Sun and Weird Weather, which will be available in the US later this year.

Apart from its main contract production at the Belgian brewery De Proef Brouwerji, and its new contract brewing partnership at AleSmith, Mikkeller still operates three smaller breweries in Copenhagen and London.

Mikkeller will immediately seek interested buyers for its current US locations, which include a turnkey San Diego brewery (30k Hectoliter capacity) and warehouse. Mikkeller will continue to own and operate its retail locations in San Francisco and Little Italy, San Diego. Interested parties should contact Matthew Lisowski, VP/GM Mikkeller USA, at Mikkeller is committed to assisting its employees through this transition including fair severance and assistance with job transition services.


  • Was founded by math and physics teacher Mikkel Bjergsø, who started homebrewing in his kitchen in Copenhagen in 2003
  • Distributes beers to over 50 countries
  • Operates 48 bars and restaurants in 18 different countries around the world
  • Contract brews 90 percent of its beer, mainly at De Proef Brouwerij in Belgium
  • Owns and operates three breweries in London and Copenhagen
  • Founded the Mikkeller Running Club with 250 chapters and roughly 20,000 members around the world
  • Annually hosts leading beer festivals Mikkeller Beer Celebration Copenhagen (MBCC) and Mikkeller Beer Celebration Tokyo (MBCT)

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