Barrio Brewing Company to become first 100% employee-owned craft brewery in Arizona

One of the largest breweries in Arizona makes history.

Tucson craft brewery Barrio Brewing Company announced that it will transfer the entirety of the business’ ownership to its employees through an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) in January 2020.

While companies such as Modern Times Beer and New Belgium Brewing Company, have implemented ESOP models, Barrio Brewing will be the first in the US to give 100 percent of its ownership to employees once the ESOP is effective.

“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. “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.”

The journey

Dennis and Tauna Arnold founded Gentle Ben’s Brewing Company in 1991. In 2006, expansion moved the brewery’s production facilities and restaurant to a 22,000-square-foot building now known as Barrio Brewing Company.

Jaime Dickman, an industry veteran with 18 years of experience, was hired as chief operating officer in October.

“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,” said Dickman. “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 Co. is located at 800 E.16th St. For more information on Barrio Brewing Company, read our November 2019 article Barrio Brewing Co.: Producer of Tucson’s longest brewed beer.

Jackie is a food writer and photographer native to Tucson. He loves corgis and still thinks rickrolling is funny. If you'd like to stalk him, visit jackietran.com and his Instagram @jackie_tran_.

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