Ohio-based Platform Beer was one of the country’s fastest growing producers.

By Mike Pomranz
Updated August 07, 2019
Credit: Courtesy of Sharpshutter / Getty Images

It’s been over two years since Anheuser-Busch (AB) has purchased an American craft brewery. In May 2017, the beer giant snatched up North Carolina’s respected Wicked Weed Brewing in a move that surprised the craft beer scene. The acquisition was the tenth for America’s largest beer company, most of which were added in a flurry of craft beer buyouts in the previous three years. Afterwards, AB said its “The High End” division was essentially done with these acquisitions. And in fact, they were – in part because The High End itself was rebranded as Anheuser-Busch’s “Brewers Collective.”

But after a couple years of silence, AB is back at it again: Today, they announced the purchase of Cleveland, Ohio’s Platform Beer Company.

Launched in 2014, Platform adopted a “drink local” motto but quickly turned its focus to growth, running four taprooms and tasting rooms across Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati, with plants to open a location in Pittsburg as well. As a result, Platform was recognized as one of the fastest growing craft breweries in the United States in 2017.

As AB pointed out in announcing the deal, that aggressive growth seemed to make this a sensible partnership. “We are thrilled to welcome Paul, Justin and the entire Platform team to Brewers Collective,” Marcelo Michaelis, president of the Brewers Collective, said. “We are inspired by their experiential mindset, and we look forward to supporting their growth plans as they continue to push boundaries through their intrinsic craft values of education, connection and collaboration. It’s this growth that will give beer drinkers access to even more choices in today’s competitive and dynamic beer market.”

And yet, the purchase of Platform is unlikely to affect many drinkers anytime soon. The larger question becomes whether this move could kick start another round of buyouts from the previously sleeping Anheuser-Busch giant.

For now, the acquisition seems like an anomaly. One of the biggest changes from 2017 is that the beer market as a whole – including craft beer – has continued to slow. Regional brewers (like Platform) as a whole haven’t been performing tremendously better than many large beer brands – and some of the biggest growth has been outside of craft beer’s primary scope, things like hard seltzer, low calorie beers, and even Naturdays. As a result, though AB clearly saw something worth buying into with Platform, it’s probably unlikely the “Brewers Collective” is looking to pick up where “The High End” left off.