It’s been a busy week for Anheuser-Busch InBev. Yesterday, the beer behemoth announced they’d be buying Colorado’s Breckenridge Brewery, probably best known for its Vanilla Porter. This comes just five days after announcing on Friday that they’d be swallowing up Arizona’s Four Peaks Brewing. If you count the company’s recent purchase of UK craft brewer Camden Town Brewery, that’s three new acquisitions in the past five days.
But even just focusing on what’s happening in the US, 2015 has seen AB InBev acquiring craft brands more aggressively than ever before. It started in January with the purchase of Washington’s Elysian. And then continued in September with the purchase of California’s Golden Road. Add those to the acquisitions above, and that brings AB InBev’s total purchases this year to five formerly independent brewers.
Sure, in a year that saw the number of American craft breweries alone top 4,000, AB InBev’s purchase of a few brands doesn’t necessarily put a huge dent in the craft beer market, however, it does appear to signal a change in strategy for the beer giant who has now more than doubled the number of craft breweries they own in a single calendar year. AB InBev first got into the craft buyout game by acquiring Chicago's Goose Island back in 2011. Then, in 2014, they added Long Island's Blue Point and Bend, Oregon's 10 Barrel to their craft brewery portfolio.
It will be interesting to see if this trend continues in 2016. And what will become of the brands AB InBev has already purchased. Though for now, the company is giving their smaller brewers some continued autonomy, as their portfolio grows, you have to wonder how many craft breweries AB InBev really wants to be running.
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