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Funky goes national: Oakland Park brewery sold, but taproom vibe to stay the same

Funky Buddha Brewery in Oakland Park has been sold to Fortune 500 beer giant Constellation Brands, the beermaker announced Thursday.

For fans of the popular Oakland Park brewery and taproom, nothing is expected to change. Funky’s popular lineup of food- and dessert-inspired brews, however, will be more widely distributed outside of Florida, including its Hop Gun IPA, Floridian Hefeweizen and other seasonal beers.

Financial details of the deal haven’t been disclosed, but Funky Buddha owners Ryan and K.C. Sentz will continue to run the brewery’s day-to-day operations.

“Constellation and Funky Buddha share a lot of the same ideals and passion for philanthropy, entrepreneurship and the art of craft beer,” says K.C. Sentz, Funky’s head brewer and president, in a prepared statement. “At the end of the day, we just really like the people we have met within the organization, each of whom share our dedication to making outstanding beer.”

Shortly after Funky Buddha announced the sale, local hop heads took to Twitter to voice their opinions:

Even out-of-state Funky fans weighed in on the corporate partnership, with reactions ranging from hopeful to mocking.

John Linn, Funky Buddha’s brand director, says the sale of the brewery won’t affect the brewery’s 130 employees, nor does the brewery plan to relocate from Oakland Park, its home base since June 2013.

“I don’t have any timeline yet, but this will let us enter new [beer] markets,” Linn says. “Our goal has always been to to grow and bring our beer to more people.”

Constellation Brands Inc., which employs about 9,000 workers, owns and distributes beer-, wine- and spirit-makers Corona, Svedka Vodka, Modelo and 100 other brands across the world. It also carries the third-largest beer market share, behind No. 1 Anheuser-Busch InBev and No. 2 MillerCoors, and also owns California-based craft brewery Ballast Point. Funky Buddha is Constellation’s second craft brewery.

Funky Buddha projects it will produce 35,000 barrels of beer in 2017, up 29 percent from 27,000 barrels in 2016, but its distribution outside the state has been limited. The sale of the brewery will change that, Linn says.

“A lot of those problems involve getting financing from somewhere, and we’ve just joined forces with a company that will do that,” Linn says. “They know the beer industry. Their passion for producing product is just like ours.”

The Buddha’s sale is hardly the first example of a beer corporation snapping up a rising regional brewery. Anheuser-Busch InBev recently purchased Asheville, N.C.’s Wicked Weed Brewing. In Florida, Tampa’s Cigar City Brewing was acquired in 2016 by the company that owns Oskar Blues Brewing. Meanwhile, the Anheuser-Busch InBev-backed Veza Sur Brewing Co. is scheduled to open its Wynwood taproom to the public on Aug. 19.

First lured to the taproom by Funky Buddha’s popular breakfast-in-a-glass Maple Bacon Coffee Porter, Layssa Ma Zamora Perez, of Miami, says she now won’t be visiting the brewery anytime soon.

“I see this type of buyout as a means for Big Beer to quash the growth of the craft industry and essentially bully the little guy,” Perez says. “I don't plan on returning.”

Not every craft-beer drinker shares that sentiment. Michael J. Heim, of Oakland Park, sees the potential of expanding the brewery’s suds across the country.

“I hope this only helps bring Funky Buddha to a larger audience,” Heim says.

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