Anheuser-Busch

Posted in Anheuser-Busch, Don't Miss This

In new TV spots, craft beer is overwhelming so drink Bud Light 

When in doubt, take a shot a craft beer. That seems to be Anheuser Busch’s mentality in the latest advertising spots for Bud Light.

In the upcoming TV spots, if you are overwhelmed by craft beer’s extensive and “unusual” concoctions, Bud Light will be waiting, with its four ingredients – water, rice, barley and hops. No need to look for fruit, spices or even lobster here.

The new TV promos titled “Bottle” and “Complex” will air on August 10th during the Denver Broncos and Chicago Bears preseason game. The push promotes Bud Light as “America’s Light Lager.”

This latest marketing approach comes as big brand light beers like Bud Light are in decline. According to Beer Marketer’s Insights, Bud Light was down 8.4% for 12 weeks thru July 16 in IRI multi-outlet and convenience in a Q2 conference call. Despite the downturn, the company states the beer is considered an “underdog” in beer circles, yet A-B states 20,000 Bud Lights are sold every minute, every day of the year.

This may not be the Peach Pumpkin Ale brouhaha of the Super Bowl in 2015, but it’s still interesting to see a company that spends over a billion dollars acquiring craft breweries take a shot at the beers they create.

These spots, and other creative content focus on the quality and simplicity Bud Light delivers with its four essential ingredients. The new creative takes consumers to the heart of the brewing process, showing how Bud Light takes the time to make sure every beer goes down smooth and crisp, so it can be shared and enjoyed among friends.

Despite declining volume this summer, Bud Light is still the number #1 beer sold in America, followed by Coors Light.

Posted in Anheuser-Busch, Headlines

AB InBev South African hops vs. Craft breweries (A new drama)

AB InBev South African Hops

Today some American craft breweries took to social media to voice their concerns about another Anheuser-Busch maneuver. This time it has to do with hops.

We have verified the facts amidst the social media outrage. The news emerged in a memo from ZA Hops, an independent hop distributer. ZA Hops previously had access to and sold surplus South African hops, grown by farms under the SAB umbrella. Confirmed by Paul Gatza of the Brewers Association, ZA Hops was informed that surplus hops from SAB Hop Farms in South Africa would no longer be sold outside of the AB InBev network. The memo they sent out included the statement:

I was informed by SAB Hop Farms (part of ABI’s purchase of SAB-Miller) that ABI are commandeering all the hops that were to be allocated for distribution to North American craft brewers. The goal is to sell the hops internally to their acquired (former) craft breweries, even though they have not been able to sell all the hops as of yet. Regardless, they refuse to let US craft brewers buy any CY 2017 hops believing this will afford them a competitive advantage in an increasingly competitive marketplace. – ZA Hops (Full memo below)

This isn’t entirely surprising since the acquisition of SABMiller, including SAB Hop Farms, occurred in the fall of 2015 thereby giving ownership to AB InBev. However, many breweries have lashed out today at the news that they will not have access to purchase SAB grown South African hops this harvest.

This move by AB InBev opens an interesting discussion however. While they are completely within their rights to use their own assets (hops in this case), within their own breweries, and restrict competitors (North American craft breweries), it has incited the industry into some interesting reactions.

The biggest chord struck seems to be a general fear at the shear size and power of AB. Following the shocking news this week about Wicked Weed, the craft beer industry has to feel like no one is safe. To follow that purchase with the loss of previously accessible hop varieties, once again to AB, can’t feel good.

It seems a scary pattern of vertical integration becoming clearer and clearer each year. Distributers, craft breweries, even home brew supply shops to name a few. Now they have cut off an entire hop region from anyone outside of AB InBev.

We find ourselves asking, how far will this go? Will AB InBev try to vertically integrate even further and expand their North American hop sector as well? This week has made it pretty obvious that even those we thought would never sell, do.

America’s craft sector has made amazing leaps and bounds with hundreds of new craft breweries founded every year. In fact this year, the U.S. hit over 5000 craft breweries during a generation that is encouraged to “drink local” and “drink craft.” It’s become pretty clear that AB has noticed and is waging war. They started quietly at first, but this week has been pretty loud to the ears of craft beer lovers.

At the end of the day, the news has been rough on craft beer this week. It has raised a lot of anger, fears, and questions. But frankly, what did we expect from AB? For them to lay back and watch their percentage of the beer market shrink year after year and say, “well its only fair, at least the people have choices?”

No, this move is exactly what should be expected from Anheuser-Busch. It falls right in line with historically how they do business. How they grew so large and became such a powerhouse in the first place. It’s smart business. As a publicly traded company, their responsibility is to their shareholders, not their competitors.

But does it suck for the breweries we know and love? Absolutely. Does it suck for all who support independent craft brewers and loved those yummy South African hopped beers? Absolutely.

UPDATE: AB InBev makes a statement on South African hop allocation. 

 

FULL: ZA Hops Memo:

“Along with the news late last week of ABI buying Wicked Weed, I was informed by SAB Hop Farms (part of ABI’s purchase of SAB-Miller) that ABI are commandeering all the hops that were to be allocated for distribution to North American craft brewers. The goal is to sell the hops internally to their acquired (former) craft breweries, even though they have not been able to sell all the hops as of yet. Regardless, they refuse to let US craft brewers buy any CY 2017 hops believing this will afford them a competitive advantage in an increasingly competitive marketplace. So unfortunately, there will be no CY 2017 hops available from ZA Hops. Whether they decide to sell to the craft beer market independently is unclear at this point should they not be able to allocate all the hops internally. This is a shocking turn of events, though commensurate with ABI’s business practices, and devastating to my company – yet another blow to craft beer.”

Image: Beer Street Journal/ Elk Mountain Hop Farm

Posted in Anheuser-Busch, Headlines, Wicked Weed Brewing Co

Wicked Weed Brewing acquired by Anheuser-Busch

This might come as a shock for some. Asheville, North Carolina’s Wicked Weed Brewing has been acquired by Anheuser-Busch.

Walt and Luke Dickinson, along with Ryan Guthy, started work on a plan that would eventually become nationally known Wicked Weed in 2009. The brewery started as small brewpub in downtown Asheville and eventually expanded into the all-oak wild and sour “Funkatorium.” Shortly after that build, the brewery added a full production facility just outside of Asheville. Then in 2016, Wicked Weed announced a second sour facility located near Asheville’s airport. That’s four facilities in nearly 4 years.

“This is an exciting time for the entire brewing team. Our ability to create a wide range of really well executed beers that are focused on creativity, quality and drinkability is what makes Wicked Weed great. We have chosen to partner with The High End to position ourselves to make Wicked Weed what we imagined it could be when we first sat at a craft beer bar and talked about opening a brewery. As a brewer, giving our team more resources to continue innovating our portfolio and the ability to reach more craft drinkers, allows us to keep putting the beer and the people first.” Co-founder Walt Dickinson

Today Wicked Weed Brewing becomes the next multi-million dollar acquisition by the world’s largest brewery Anheuser-Busch. Their purchase expands A-B’s “High End” division which includes Goose Island, Blue Point Brewing, Breckenridge Brewing, Golden Road, 10 Barrel Brewing, Elysian, and Four Peaks Brewing.

Plus… they just dropped over $104 billion on SABMiller.

Wicked Weed’s lineup will join the brewery’s ever expanding “High End” portfolio. Wicked Weed Brewing employs more than 200 people across their four facilities. According the brewery, the founding ownership will continue to lead the brewery.

Interestingly, the downtown brewpub is closed until 5pm today for “Staff Training”.

The sum of the deal was not disclosed.

Posted in Anheuser-Busch, Asahi Brewing, Headlines

Asahi buys five European AB InBev brands for $7.8 billion

Leuven, Belgium based AB InBev is selling five eastern European brands to Asahi.

Five brands are involved in the deal, including Pilsner Urquell (Czech Republic), Tyskie and Lech (Poland), Dreher (Hungary), and Ursus (Romania).

Each of the brands were owned by SABMiler before AB InBev’s $100 billion takeover, finalized this fall.

Besides their brands that bear their own name, Asahi Breweries purchased Tsingtao from AB InBev in 2009, and London based Meantime Brewery, Grolsch and Peroni from SABMiller earlier this year.

Asasi has apparently been shopping the eastern European market for years. The purchase is the largest to date by Asahi, who seeking to become a stronger player in the global beer market.

Posted in Anheuser-Busch, Aquisitions, Headlines

AB InBev acquires Northern Brewer

AB InBev acquires Northern Brewer

Anheuser-Busch InBev acquires something a little different this week. Homebrew supplies. The global brewery has acquired Northern Brewer.

Northern Brewer was founded 23 years ago by Chris Farley (not the actor). Since then the homebrew supply group has grown to one of the largest in the United States, posting $10’s of millions in annual revenue.

Farley has confirmed that Northern Brewer has been acquired by ZX Ventures, the “global disruptive growth unit” of Anheuser-Busch InBev. The details of the transaction have not been disclosed.

Farley states in a message on the Northern Brewer site:

First, nothing will fundamentally change as the result of this deal. Our entire leadership team will remain intact and our company will continue to be independent. Our staff of dedicated employees will continue to serve our customers and help our industry innovate. Our culture will remain as it is today: vibrant, energetic, fair and dedicated to our mission and to you.

From here, Farley goes on to say this sale will bring “unparalleled opportunities.” What those are exactly, have not been divulged by the company.

Northern Brewer’s leadership will remain intact, as will all the current employees – for now.

What ZX Ventures, and AB InBev will do with Northern Brewer remains to be seen.

Developing…

Posted in Anheuser-Busch, Headlines

Anheuser Busch acquires Italy’s Birra del Borgo

Anheuser Busch has reached terms to acquire Italy’s Birra del Borgo, making the large Italian brewery the second craft brewery acquired by A-B Inbev this year (Devil’s Backbone was the first earlier in April).

Founded in 2005 by Leonardo Di Vincenzo, the Borgorose, Italy based brewery is one of the most widely distributed Italian craft brewers and has collaborated with other well known breweries such as Dogfish Head (with My Antonia) and Cantillon (in lambic blending with Duchessic).

Di Vincenzo will retain his position and decision-making capacity after the acquisition and has termed the deal a “partnership” rather than a “purchase” or a “takeover”:

“Our voyage since we started in 2005 has been a great adventure. Today the beer sector has become very competitive and it necessary for us to make a next step to ensure that we can continue to evolve in terms of brewing techniques and in terms of the complexity and taste variation we can offer to consumers. We believe partnering with AB InBev is a great opportunity to do exactly that: it will allow Birra del Borgo to grow in a sustainable way while staying true to our unique identity and the philosophy that we have followed since the very beginning.

The partnership with AB InBev will bring us many advantages, from technological improvements and access to scientific research to the possibility to grow from a commercial point of view. Moreover, this partnership also means that we will be able to focus much more on what we enjoy most and do best: creating and experimenting with exciting new beers and pushing the boundaries of beer evolution in Italy.”

Birra del Borgo produces 10 beers in a year-round capacity and will continue to produce at their Borgorose facility.

Country Director Simon Wustenberg provided the explanation for why Birra del Borgo was a target for acquisition from Anheuser Busch:

“We have been very impressed by what Leonardo and his team have built since 2005. They have been at the forefront of redefining beer in Italy, bringing a unique mix of inspired innovation, quality and consistency. Leonardo’s vision for beer and his passion for brewing will be great inspirations to our whole team, and we’re very excited about partnering up and growing together. As a challenger on the Italian market, we have been successfully developing our business with a great portfolio of premium and specialty brands in the last few years. Today, that portfolio becomes even stronger with some of the best of ‘Made in Italy’.”

Terms of the deal were not disclosed. However, with this purchase, Birra del Borgo is now a fully owned subsidiary of A-B Inbev.

Posted in Anheuser-Busch, Headlines

Anheuser Busch acquires Devils Backbone Brewing Company

Anheuser Busch has acquired Nelson County, Virgnia based Devil’s Backbone Brewing Company today, for an undisclosed amount. This is the first brewery purchase by AB InBev this year, after going on a buying streak late last year.

“I am extremely pleased to announce the partnership of Devils Backbone Brewing Company with Anheuser-Busch. While we are joining a creative group of craft breweries in the division, Devils Backbone will retain a high level of autonomy and continue its own authentic DNA within The High End framework,” said Steve Crandall, co-founder and CEO of Devils Backbone Brewing Company. “The existing management team plans to stay on board for many years, while continuing to innovate and bring locally crafted Virginia beer to the nation.”

Devil’s Backbone was founded in 2008 by Steve and Heidi Crandal. The deal is expected to close in the second quarter, 2016.

Full press release is below. We will update this article with more details as we receive them. 

New York and Lexington & Nelson County, VA. April 12, 2016 – Today, Anheuser-Busch announced an agreement to acquire Devils Backbone Brewing Company, the leading and fastest-growing craft brewery in the state of Virginia. Devils Backbone will be the latest partner to join the diverse portfolio of craft breweries within The High End, the company’s business unit comprising unique craft and import brands.

“I am extremely pleased to announce the partnership of Devils Backbone Brewing Company with Anheuser-Busch. While we are joining a creative group of craft breweries in the division, Devils Backbone will retain a high level of autonomy and continue its own authentic DNA within The High End framework,” said Steve Crandall, co-founder and CEO of Devils Backbone Brewing Company. “The existing management team plans to stay on board for many years, while continuing to innovate and bring locally crafted Virginia beer to the nation.”

In 2008, founders Steve and Heidi Crandall opened the doors to Devils Backbone Brewing Company in the Virginia Heartland, after being inspired by a ski trip to northern Italy in 1991 where they had their first taste of Germanic style beer. After success with the first brewpub, Basecamp, the decision was made to break ground on the Outpost facility, in Lexington, Virginia. Originally projected to produce 10,000 barrels of beer in its first ten years, the Outpost produced almost 45,000 barrels in its first three. Steve credits much of this early success to the excellent network of distributors within his system, which is weighted heavily towards Anheuser-Busch.

“I congratulate Steve and Heidi Crandall and the entire Devils Backbone team as they partner with Anheuser-Busch,” said Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe.  “Through the strength of Anheuser-Busch’s network of distributors, Devils Backbone’s award-winning craft beer will soon be available throughout the country and beyond. I want to thank Devils Backbone for their immense contribution to Virginia’s world-class craft beer industry, and I look forward to the additional exposure for Virginia as a leading state for craft beer lovers.”

Today, the Outpost Brewery & Taproom in Lexington serves as the primary production brewery while the Basecamp Brewpub & Meadows in Roseland, serves as a visitor destination. Devils Backbone takes full advantage of the scenic 100-acre Basecamp property surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains, offering a variety of opportunities for guests to enjoy the outdoors. In 2015, the two locations hosted more than 500,000 guests.

“Devils Backbone has captivated beer drinkers in Virginia since opening its doors eight years ago,” said Felipe Szpigel, President, The High End. “From the beginning, they have shown creativity and talent with the great beers they brew, and they’ve been able to use the authentic offerings at Basecamp Brewpub & Meadows to cultivate a fun, outdoor lifestyle that resonates with everyone. Pair these qualities with dynamic leadership and a dream to do something bigger, and you have the recipe for an even more promising future.”

While best known for its flagship Vienna Lager, which accounted for nearly 60% of Devils Backbone volume in 2015, the portfolio also includes other award-winning year-round favorites like Eight Point IPA and Schwartz Bier. Developing beers with personality and individual integrity of flavor has helped enable Devils Backbone to win four National titles: 2014 Great American Beer Festival Mid-Size Brewery & Brew Team, 2013 Small Brewing Company & Small Brewing Company Brew Team, 2012 Small Brewpub & Small Brewpub Brewer, 2010 World Beer Cup Champion Brewery, and the Virginia Craft Brewers Fest Best of Show medals in 2015, 2014, 2013 and 2012.

First Beverage Group acted as financial advisor to Devils Backbone Brewing Company. Anheuser-Busch’s partnership with Devils Backbone is expected to close in the second quarter, subject to customary closing conditions. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.