Harpoon Brewery announced Thursday it will make the transition to an employee-owned company effective August 1 in a move designed to “ensure the brewery’s independence and preserve Harpoon’s culture.”

“Employee ownership is the embodiment of what Harpoon stands for,” said Harpoon co-founder Dan Kenary in a release. “Our success as an independent craft brewer is attributed to our outstanding employees and the wonderful culture we have at the brewery. The ESOP strengthens our commitment to our employees, our culture, and to making and sharing great beer.”

The ESOP, or Employee Stock Ownership Plan, represents a stake of 48 percent of the company’s shares transferred over from the existing shareholder group.

From the company’s newsletter, issued Thursday, July 10, shortly after 4 p.m.:

This new structure of employee ownership means you can count on Harpoon to stay independent and dedicated to its mission: brewing great beer and sharing unforgettable beer drinking experiences.

Ancillary to the move but also of note, co-founder Rich Doyle will step down as CEO, maintaining part-time status at the brewery. Kenary will reportedly step in as CEO, with “no other changes in the management structure” expected to take place.

Harpoon employees were made aware of the ESOP at a mid-year meeting July 9 at the company’s Beer Hall.

“This is a big transition for the company and for me, but it feels like the right thing at the right time,” said Doyle. “I have enjoyed my twenty-eight years working here and building a first class brewing company from idea to reality.  The ESOP will really fit the culture here since Harpoon has always been a very team-oriented place. Dan and the Harpoon team will continue to do an excellent job.”

Harpoon was founded in 1986 and now enjoys the title of twelfth largest craft brewery in the United States. There are 187 employees between its Boston and Windsor, VT, locations.