Balter Brewing Co, a real-life example of what can happen if you believe, if you throw everything, your labour, your cash, into a dream. Nothing, as they say, especially self-generated wealth, comes easy.

Revealed: Mick Fanning’s Balter Brewing Co sale worth “$70-to-$150 million; if targets hit main founders to earn $4 million each!”

Pay day etc.

Yesterday, the boutique beer world was abuzz with news that the Japanese-owned brewer Carlton United had bought Mick Fanning and co’s Balter Brewing Co.

(Read that here.)

It was a lovely moment for the surfer-owned-and-created brand which was driven by the skills of “brewing god” Scott Hargrave, formerly of Stone and Wood, and its distinct minimalist branding.

Balter was started three years ago by Mick, Joel Parko, Bede Durbidge, Josh Kerr, Sean Ronan, Stirling Howland, Scott Hargrave and Ant Macdonald.

Forty-six other investors threw in amounts from $A20,000 upwards to be a part of the start-up.

It’s not as if there weren’t a precedent for the little company to be quickly gobbled up by a major brewer, of course. The year before Balter started, Saint Archer, the San Diego boutique brewer of which Josh Kerr was an investor, was sold to MillerCoors for around $35 million after only a couple of years of biz.

According to BeachGrit’s sources, the Balter sale is worth a minimum of $A70 million plus earn-outs at years three and five “with solid targets to hit.”

If the targets are reached, an investor’s $20,000 will get ’em $400,000.

“The head ponies,” says our source, “had a few hundred k in there. Pay day.”

Think four-to-five million sheks.

The two-hundred million figure, said the source, would “only be if they smash the three and five-year earn-outs fully and even then it’s more like 150 mill.”

Meanwhile, the first “major scalp” of camping retailer Kathmandu’s buyout of Rip Curl is about to go down.

More, as they say, when that story comes into relief.

Watch out! Don't go! National security threat! (this photo out the front of Rancho Santana lands)
Watch out! Don't go! National security threat! (this photo out the front of Rancho Santana lands)

Breaking: Trump administration declares earthly surf paradise Nicaragua a “national security threat!”

Laugh in the face of this pure injustice while gluttonously mocking it!

We surfers, we here, are elevated. No? Yes. We belong to a special caste, an extraordinary caste. Our brains, calcified by ocean water, are able to draw parallels, find truths, reach apolitical consensuses where lesser-thans, the non-surfers, bog down in silly partisan name-calling and shrill nonsense. We are not like them and can discuss right things, left things, international things and without devolving into a Rachel Maddow-esque tragicomedy.


But no, I meant purified. Our brains are purified by ocean water exactly like mine just was in the earthly surf paradise called Nicaragua.

Oh you followed along as I not only realized that family and surf can be joined in a perfect union but also attained enlightenment.


A beautiful land sparsely populated by a beautiful people. Fresh fruits and vegetables grown with love. Roads paved with paving stones. Rarely have I encountered such warmth and kindness in this world but the Trump administration just dubbed them all a “national security threat” and let us learn why from the pages of ZeroHedge.

A day after the US-backed far-right coup in Bolivia, the White House released a statement applauding the military putsch and making it clear that two countries were next on Washington’s target list: “These events send a strong signal to the illegitimate regimes in Venezuela and Nicaragua,” Trump declared.

On November 25, the Trump White House then quietly issued a statement characterizing Nicaragua as an “unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States.”

This prolonged for an additional year an executive order Trump had signed in 2018 declaring a state of “national emergency” on the Central American country.

Trump’s 2018 declaration came after a failed violent right-wing coup attempt in Nicaragua. The US government has funded and supported many of the opposition groups that sought to topple elected Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, and cheered them on as they sought to overthrow him.

The 2018 national security threat designation was quickly followed by economic warfare. In December the US Congress approved the NICA Act without any opposition. This legislation gave Trump the authority to impose sanctions on Nicaragua, and prevents international financial institutions from doing business with Managua.

Trump’s new 2019 statement spewed outlandish propaganda against Nicaragua, referring to its democratically elected government — which for decades has been targeted for overthrow by Washington — as a supposedly violent and corrupt “regime.”

On it goes infuriatingly, detailing how the Trump administration will attempt to economically strangle Nicaragua, how many new sanctions will be announced in the coming weeks etc. and absolutely infuriating.

But we surfers, we here, can stick our calcified fingers right into the eye of bad policy. I mean purified fingers. We can laugh in the face of this pure injustice while gluttonously mocking it.


You recall how I ascended into enlightenment at Rancho Santana, the gorgeous surf/family resort in southern Nicaragua? Well, go book a family vacation yourself. When you get to the end you can type CHAS into the promo code area and get 20% off a stay at the Inn, 15% off at any of the other accommodations and 25% off at the Spa.

Or just click here.

How you like them manzanas?

You can glare at wrong-headed foreign policy while getting a post-surf massage at a discount.


Florence on relationship with Slater: “We had this cat that kind of lived between our houses, one day Kelly called me and said — the cat’s name was Kitty — he said: ‘Kitty’s dead!'”

A peek behind the curtain!

The New York Times is one of the most well-respected journalistic institutions in the entire world. That sometimes beautiful, sometimes cruel, always gimlet eye’d Gray Lady has published too many important, life-impacting stories over the last century to even count and so when she bends down and whispers of our surf, I listed with bated breath.

Just yesterday, live from Oahu’s North Shore, an important New York Times journalist sat down with John John Florence to discuss many things, including coming into the Pipeline Masters with a potential trip to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics on the line with Kelly Slater, the greatest of all-time, the greatest to ever do it, possibly making his own Olympic push and let’s dip into the middle of the piece.

Florence, 27, has stared at and surfed this stretch of Sunset Beach all of his life. The house where he grew up is directly in front of Pipeline. His mother still lives over there, and Kelly Slater, the 47-year-old, 11-time world champion — a mentor, friend and rival to Florence — lives next door to her. Florence can walk there in just a couple of minutes.

Growing up looking at Pipeline, then surfing it, Florence’s favorite pro surfer was Slater, a seven-time champion of the Pipe Masters event. He used to watch Slater surf that break in the winter. He wanted to be Slater. Then Slater moved in. His hero became a neighbor. It took Florence years on tour to get used to competing against him.

“We had this cat at my mom’s house that kind of lived between the houses,” Florence said, choosing a story from a couple of years ago to illustrate their relationship. “And one day he called me and said — the cat’s name was Kitty — he said: ‘Kitty’s dead. I found Kitty under the house.’ He came over and helped us bury him, and he said a few words for the cat.”



This parable seems extremely vital but what does it signify?

What does it mean?

The cat named Kitty is symbolic but symbolic of what?

The World Surf League?

Professional surfing in general?

Something more prosaic?


(And read the rest here!)

Zeke Lau throws shade on Jack Robinson’s Sunset win: “How is it okay for the interfering surfer to gain so much advantage from a collision and an interference not be called?”

“Back in the day, they would’ve got cracks after getting run over #nojoke” says noted enforcer Johnny Boy Gomes.

The surfing world’s been falling over itself in praise of Australian Jack Robinson’s emphatic Sunset victory and 2020 tour qualification.

And rightly so. Such a dominant performance hasn’t been seen since Gabby Medina eviscerated the field at Pipe in 2017.

But should it have been Hawaiian Zeke Lau standing there on the podium across the Kamehameha Highway, guzzling cheap champagne from the winner’s goblet and gushing to Shannon Hughes about how pumped he was for next year’s championship tour?

An incident at the start of the final, almost lost in the background noise of Jack’s performance, has slid that question into the narrative like a cold glance from an old lover.

Zeke’s first wave was a finely threaded tube through the Sunset bowl. The very well constructed Hawaiian took a high line through a collapsing section, momentarily disappearing from view.

Jack had caught the wave previous and was sitting square in the impact zone. Guessing Zeke’s line would have been difficult, with Zeke obscured, but Jack chose to paddle for the shoulder instead of the foam.

He then bailed his board as the lip pitched, arguably causing Zeke to fall as he exited the heaving cavern.

Picture Rick Kane on Vince Mohaloka to get an idea of the transgression.

A high score went begging, as did Zeke’s priority.

At the time there was some brief discussion from the commentary team but little mention of an interference. Both surfers had to swap the boards due to damage sustained.

Soon after Jack started dropping bombs and the incident was, seemingly, forgotten.

The two surfers even shared a warm embrace after the buzzer.

But today Zeke took to his instagram to give his side of the story.

“When a surfer is put in a position while paddling out that they cannot get out of the way and a collision happens due to this, it is up to a majority of the judges to call interference based on whether it is determined to be accidental or not”.

My opinion is that we are “professional surfers”. The best of the best! Going off the rule, surfer in white COULD have gotten out of the way. From this video clip you can see surfer in white has enough time to make a conscious decision where to paddle. Just so happens that the line he chose is directly where I drew my line to come out of the barrel, which is the ONLY option I had. The surfer paddling out has options to avoid the surfer on the wave. He should be in the channel paddling back out. It should come down to who had priority over the situation. These 2 surfers are not equal in this specific case and the rules should benefit the surfer on the wave utilizing priority.

This ride would have been the first major score of the heat, but was deemed incomplete because surfer in white chose to BAIL his surfboard causing me to fall off, hindering the scoring potential of my wave, breaking my board, and leaving white with priority. How is it okay for the interfering surfer to gain so much advantage from a collision and an interference not be called?

The highlighted rule 168 section 3 ENABLES controversy and should be addressed.

Thanks to everyone for all the supportive messages. Let me know what you guys think!”

Zeke needed the win to requalify for next year.

Very high stakes, as they say.

The absolute dominance of Jack on the rest of the final was inarguable, however.

But was this a Sliding Boards moment?

Should Jack have copped an interference? Did the early collision throw Zeke off his game, thus robbing him of a fair chance to win?

Zeke seems to be stopping short of calling for a review and potential re-surf aka Medina in Portugal.

But he is calling for the WSL to review rule 168 section 3.


Jack himself has since responded to the post: “Everyone has there (sic) opinion, but when you are in the moment the only thing I thought of was to get to the shoulder and also not get ran over it was safety first for me. I have the highest ever respect for you Zeke so I would never try and get in the way of you.”

We’ll leave the last word to Johnny Boy Gomes:

“Back in the day, they would’ve got cracks after getting run over #nojoke”


Happy founders, Ant Macdonald, Stirling Howard, Mick Fanning and happy man whom I don't know but has beguiling smile.

Mick Fanning and pals sell beer company Balter Brewing Co for rumoured “many, many millions!”

Balter, the King of Beers!

In business-slash-surf news, three-timer champ Mick Fanning has sold the beer label he started in 2016 with pals Bede Durbidge, Josh Kerr, Sean Ronan, Joel Parkinson, Mick Fanning, Stirling Howland, Scott Hargraves and Ant Macdonald to Carlton United Breweries for a rumoured two-hundred mill.

Two hundred mill?

Ooowee, that’s a little a rich for a company that brewed four million litres last year, yeah?

Aren’t the press releases saying an “undisclosed amount”?

That’s the figure kicking around CUB, the iconic Australian brewer that was bought by Japan’s Asahi for $16 billion in 2016, according to an employee.

In response, I figured he meant twenty but he hit me back on a text, real quick, no, two hundred.

Two years ago, Joel Parkinson was quoted somewhere, still looking for that story, saying they wouldn’t sell for under two-hundred mill as there were 46 investors involved in getting the thing off the ground.

Still, I couldn’t bring myself to put that figure in a headline, hence “many, many millions”, which, I think, will prove to be accurate when the amount is released in a few days.

According to Radio Brew News,

“We’ve been the subject of so many buyout rumours since the very first day we started, and we’ve been sold probably 50 or so times already. It just turns out that the 51st time is actually true,” he said.

The team explained that the deal with CUB came about as a result of Balter’s exponential growth, and that its plans to grow further in the coming years required a capital injection.

A number of factors came into play for us,” explained Howland.

“We’ve been going at a pretty crazy trajectory for a number of years now, It’s been a wonderful ride but it definitely a ride that hasn’t just been smooth sailing.

“We’ve got a hard-working engine in this business and if you rev the engine for a long period of time it can take its toll.”

He said that discussions had begun after the GABS Hottest 100 in January, when the Balter team were approached by CUB.

“We talked amongst ourselves about what it would mean.

“When you’re under the pressure that the team is, to be able to relieve that was an enticing opportunity for us.

“We’ve built this brand into something that Aussies really love and we’ve got a staff here that are the backbone and the underpinning of all that.

“We had to delve deep into what it meant for all those things and whether they’d be compromised or not.”

He said that the business was launched with the help of 46 friends and family, and along with securing the future of its staff at the business, paying their early supporters back was a key consideration in the decision making process.

“We’ve had friends and family invest in Balter since day one, when we were just an idea on paper. Without those 46 friends and family none of this would have got off the ground the way it has.

“For some of them, it was their life savings which was pretty nerve wracking for us.

“For us to be able to sit here today and be able to say we didn’t mess it up, it’s a pretty good feeling.”

When it comes to staff, Balter’s sales team will remain in place and its more than 60 existing staff have their jobs secured when it comes to the deal, said the team.

Macdonald said that the deal needed to be a “win-win” for everyone.

“We’ve been contacted for years from all multinationals and other independents and we never really entertained it,” he said.

“Nothing ever ticked all the boxes from an investor and employee perspective.

“A lot of people think the boys chipped in millions to start with but that didn’t happen, we’re the same as any other business.

“It takes a lot of money to continue to run a business at this pace, sometimes you’ve got to step back and really understand the risk, and we’ve taken a lot of risk on this business,” Macdonald explained.

He said that the deal with CUB was about futureproofing the business.

“The partnership we’ve formed with CUB [allows us to hold onto] our integrity.

“We talk a lot about de-risking the business, that’s a really important thing moving forward.

“There’s a lot of saturation in the market at the moment, there’s a lot of micro and macro economic pressures on the economy, our forecast for the next two years weren’t as buoyant as they were a year ago.

“If we can achieve all our goals as senior management, still brew the beer here, execute the brand we want and be able to pay back our family and friends and protect our staff it’s a win-win for everyone and we’re excited to grow Balter further in the future.”

Listen here.