By Chris Morris
October 3, 2018

Lagunitas Brewing, one of the flag bearers of the craft beer industry, is laying off 12% of its staff as the U.S. craft beer sector continues to soften.

The company, which was acquired by Heineken 17 months ago, says the action will affect all departments and all locations, including its Petaluma, California headquarters, Chicago production plant, and Seattle Taproon. (The majority of the layoffs, more than 100, will take place in Petaluma.)

“The craft beer market is rapidly evolving and, in many ways, more challenging. More breweries, more choices … very much like the late ‘90s when the craft beer segment had similar pressure,” CEO Maria Stipp told Santa Rosa’s Press Democrat.

The layoffs come just two months after Stipp announced Lagunitas was just one of five U.S. craft beer brands gaining dollar share this year. (Lagunitas, technically, is no longer considered a craft brewer by the Brewer’s Association because of its macro brewery owners.) She noted that, as of July 14, Lagunitas ranked fourth in dollar share (up 4%) and sixth in volume (up 5%) in the industry.

The company, founded by Tony Magee in 1993 and best known for its hoppy IPAs and full-flavored other offerings, has been branching into new fields as well. Earlier this year, it partnered with CannaCraft to launch Hi-Fi- Hops, a line of non-alcoholic sparkling waters, with either THC or CBD in them. Lagunitas has also launched Hop Water, a non-alcoholic water made with hops that tastes like an IPA, with none of the alcohol.

Lagunitas isn’t the only brewer cutting staff these days. Earlier this year Constellation Brands eliminated much of its craft beer sales team. New Belgium laid off 4% of its staff in Feburary. And in January, Green Flash cut 15% of its workforce and ceased distribution in 32 states.

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