What’s Brewing with ESOPs Now? Great Lakes Brewing Co. (Ohio) Establishes ESOP

May 23, 2018 | Timothy L. Stewart

On its 30th anniversary of brewing craft beer, Great Lakes Brewing Co. owners Pat and Dan Conway revealed to their employees (at the end of their annual offsite meeting) that they were introducing an ESOP. The ESOP was kept a secret from employees until it was revealed by the unveiling of a new beer: the Extra Special Opportunity Pils.

Great Lakes intends to add the ESOP as an additional employee benefit, along with its 401(k) and profit sharing plans. The ESOP will be non-leveraged, which means that Great Lakes will not be borrowing money to pay for the current owners’ stock. Rather, the stock will be purchased by the Company on an annual basis and then immediately contributed to the 250+ employees.

Great Lakes joins Harpoon, Deschutes, Odell and many other craft breweries to establish an ESOP to reward employee loyalty and continue the company’s legacy.