Arizona’s oldest craft brewer is transferring ownership of the business to its employees in a historic move for the Christmas spirit.
Barrio Brewing today announced the move via an Employee Stock Ownership Plan, which begins in January 2020. Employees who work 1,000 hours in a one-year period will be automatically enrolled in the ESOP.
Founded by Dennis and Tauna Arnold in 1991, Barrio started life as Gentle Ben’s Brewing Company near the University of Arizona campus, and their flagship beer, Barrio Blonde, is the oldest continually brewed beer in the state’s history. In 2006, a needed expansion moved the brewery’s production facilities and restaurant to a 22,000 square foot building in downtown Tucson that was originally constructed as a Quonset hut in 1947. In this facility, the brewery produces nearly 15,000 barrels each year in its 30-barrel system.
“Barrio Brewing started as, and will continue to be, a family affair as our employees are family and have put their hearts and souls into making Barrio what it is today,” said Dennis Arnold, Barrio’s soon-to-be brewmaster emeritus, in a release announcing the decision. “Nearly 30 years after our humble beginnings, the decision on our exit strategy was easy for both of us, either sell the business or simply give the business to those who’ve made it what it is, our employees, leaving them with their destinies in their own hands.”
Heading up the newly formed company is beer industry executive Jaime Dickman, who was recently tapped as Barrio’s chief operating officer to steer the business into its next phase. Dickman comes to Barrio with nearly 18 years of beer industry experience that began at Golden Eagle Distributors in 2002.
She has held positions in sales, marketing, and management with a specific focus on craft beer sales, brand rollouts, on/off premise programming, event planning/execution and media support.
“I’ve been a big supporter of Barrio Brewing Company for many years and am excited about the opportunity to come on board at this historic moment on its journey,” Dickman said. “Helping to take the brewery to the next level alongside a spirited staff of 70 hard-working men and women is a great privilege for me, and I’m thrilled to be a part of this local, independent, native, and, now, employee-owned family.”
Barrio Brewing is located at 800 E. 16th St. in Tucson.