Anheuser-Busch’s craft beer experiment looks a lot leaner today after a significant shift in strategy resulting in eight of their craft beverage brands being sold.
Today Canadian-based Tilray Brands, a leading global cannabis-lifestyle and consumer packaged goods company, that now owns SweetWater Brewing Company, Montauk Brewing Company, Alpine Beer Company, and Green Flash Brewing Company has entered into an agreement with Anheuser Busch to acquire eight beer and beverage brands including, Shock Top, Breckenridge Brewery, Blue Point Brewing Company, 10 Barrel Brewing Company, Redhook Brewery, Widmer Brothers Brewing, Square Mile Cider Company, and HiBall Energy.
Notably missing from today’s acquisition of craft brewery brands were Goose Island, Elysian, Four Peaks, Golden Road, Devils Backbone, Karbach, Wicked Weed, Kona Brewing, and Omission, which will remain under the Anheuser-Busch arm, at least for the interim.
Today’s transaction and the expected sales volume of those acquired brands would immediately elevate Tilray Brands up four spots as the 5th largest craft brewery by volume in the US. Additionally, the inclusion of Square Mile Cider Company and HiBall Energy add to Tilray’s growing non-beer craft beverage portfolio which also includes, Breckenridge Distillery, and Happy Flower CBD sparkling non-alcoholic cocktails.
“Today’s announcement both solidifies our national leadership position and share in the U.S. craft brewing market and marks a major step forward in our diversification strategy,” said Irwin D. Simon, Chairman and CEO of Tilray Brands. “We are excited to work with the teams behind these iconic brands that command great consumer loyalty and have a history of delivering strong award-winning products with tremendous growth opportunities. Tilray is fully committed to invest in and champion the future of the U.S. craft beer industry by fueling new innovation that excites and further accelerates the growth of its consumer base.”
Included in today’s deal are the four production facilities located in Portland, OR, Bend, OR, Littleton, CO and Patchogue, NY, eight brewpubs in Seattle, WA, Bend, OR (2), Portland, OR, Boise, ID, Littleton, CO, Breckenridge, CO, and Patchogue, NY and their corresponding beverage portfolios.
SweetWater Brewing was first acquired by Aphria, its own cannabis-focused company in December 2020 before Aphria announced a merger with fellow cannabis industry giant, Tilray less than a month later. Since that merger, Tilray has continued to double down on its commitment to the craft beer market by acquiring Green Flash Brewing and Alpine Beer a year later, followed by Montauk Brewing last November 2022. With today’s acquisitions, Tilray continues a shopping spree of American craft beer brands rivaled only by that of coincidentally, Anheuser-Busch’s run which began with Goose Island in 2011 extending to 2017’s acquisition of Wicked Weed.
“Tilray Brands reached out to us early this year with interest in purchasing these brands and breweries, and since then, we’ve had many positive conversations that led to today’s announcement,” said Andy Thomas, President of The High End at Anheuser-Busch. “The talented people behind these brands and breweries, along with our significant investments in them over the years, have positioned them for a bright future with Tilray Brands. We are committed to working with Tilray Brands over the coming months to ensure this is a smooth transition for the people who are working every day to get these amazing beers and beverages to consumers across the U.S.”
Since Aphria/Tilray first acquired SweetWater in 2020, the parent company has helped pilot SweetWater’s westward expansion by opening a production facility and brewpub in Fort Collins, CO and expanding distribution as far west as California, and today’s news signals greater interest in growing that national footprint.
“With this transaction, our beer business is expected to triple in size from 4 million cases to 12 million cases annually,” said Ty Gilmore, President of U.S. Beer at Tilray Brands. “Looking ahead, we will further capitalize on the potential of these brands through product innovation, retailer partnerships, and expanded distribution into key markets, including the Pacific Northwest and California.”