Craft Beer Alliance Lands Three More Breweries
When discussing consolidation in the beer world, the topic typically skews towards the largest industry players’ acquisitions of smaller brands: Examples like Anheuser-Busch buying up a dozen craft producers for it’s the High End portfolio, Corona owner Constellation Brands grabbing Ballast Point, or Heineken taking over Lagunitas. But in an effort to strengthen their position, smaller brewers have also occasionally banded together as well. Recently, we’ve seen the seminal canned beer producer Oskar Blues create CANarchy, which now includes seven different brands. A couple years ago, Victory and Southern Tier combined forces to form Artisanal Brewing Ventures. And one of the earliest players was Craft Brew Alliance (CBA), which was formed when two aging craft beer pioneers—Redhook and Widmer—teamed up in 2008. In the ensuing decade, CBA has added other brands to its portfolio—Kona, Omission, and Square Mile Cider—and also sold about a third of the company to Anheuser-Busch. This week, CBA announced it has acquired three more brands.
North Carolina-based Appalachian Mountain, Massachusetts-based Cisco, and Florida-based Wynwood will all be joining the CBA’s stable. CBA had already been working with these breweries previously as part of “strategic brewing and distribution partnerships,” but now, all three are “fully into the CBA family,” CEO Andy Thomas said in a statement.
From a consumer perspective, it’s not entirely clear how this new deal will affect these beers. In theory, CBA could continue to ramp up production and distribution (which is helpfully handled through Anheuser-Busch), but at the same time, since CBA has already been working with these brands for a few years, any short-term changes would seem unlikely. As they stand now, Cisco—which has been around since 1995—is the biggest of the three with distribution in 13 states. Their flagship Whale’s Tale Pale Ale has long been a serviceable, easy-drinking pale ale for any occasion.
However, as Brewbound points out, CBA has another big milestone on the horizon: The terms of the company’s agreement with Anheuser-Busch give the brewing giant until August of next year to decide whether or not to buyout the company entirely—meaning all eight of these brands could potentially come under "big beer" control next year. Don’t say I didn’t warn you about how these conversations tend to skew.