Baranof-Beer

Sitka Brewery Is First To Sell Shares Under New Alaska Crowdfunding Law

By Jeannette Lee Falsey
Alaska Dispatch News, Anchorage

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Baranof Island Brewing Co. is the first company in Alaska to raise equity capital through a new crowdfunding law passed by the Legislature in July. The law allows entrepreneurs to sell ownership stakes in their businesses to Alaska residents.

Alaska Dispatch News, Anchorage

In 2009, Rick Armstrong did something any financial adviser would warn against: He drained his entire retirement account to start brewing and selling beer from the garage of his triplex on an eclectic Sitka street near a welding shop and a Russian dance studio.

Now Armstrong and his partners in Baranof Island Brewing Co. are taking another unorthodox approach to financing their business, which has grown into a legitimate beer producer whose ales and other libations have found followings across Alaska and western Washington state.

The Southeast Alaska brewer is the first company in the state to raise equity capital through a new crowdfunding law passed by the Legislature in July. The law opens a hitherto untapped source of financing for entrepreneurs by allowing businesses to sell ownership stakes to Alaska residents.

In mid-March, the company began selling shares at $100 apiece. Armstrong hopes the fresh infusion of capital can go toward a new brewery system that will help him churn out more beer to meet distribution demands. He said Baranof’s beer is on tour boats in Southeast and in every bar, package store and restaurant in Sitka.

For a company that began by selling pints and growlers to walk-in customers out of a four-car garage, that’s progress. And Armstrong sees room for more.

“We’ve talked to cruise companies and big-box retailers about filling orders, but we’ve never been able to go at them because we don’t have the volumes they want,” he said. “We’re in Safeway and other stores and restaurants but don’t want to jeopardize those relationships and make promises but not produce.”

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