Who owns who in the world of craft beer?

 This is a guest post by CPL

In the past 10-years, there have been so many mergers and acquisitions in the beer industry that it is difficult to keep up!  Companies like Anheuser-Busch InBev, SABMiller, Heineken, Carlsberg, and China Resources Enterprise have been aggressively purchasing  other beer companies, including some craft brewers.

Craft breweries have been the target of many acquisitions by the big players because craft beer has become extremely popular in recent years.   There are now more than 4,269 craft breweries in the United States, representing 12% of the total beer market share — compared to 5.7% in 2011.  Some analysts suggest craft beer could reach 20% market share by 2020.

To help you understand which craft brewers have been bought out, this article by brewing jobs search and selection company CPL will take a look at some recent sales and the larger craft breweries that defiantly remain independent.

Who Owns Who In The World Of Craft Beer

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Camden Town Brewery, UK

Founded in 2010, Camden Town Brewery quickly established a reputation for producing quality ales.  The brewer is located in Kentish Town, London and has a brewery bar on site.

In 2015, the Camden was bought by the multinational beer conglomerate Anheuser-Busch InBev.  There was a backlash to the sale from loyal Camden Town Brewery customers, who believed it would negatively impact the quality of the beer.  The owners of Camden suggested the decision to sell was made so the brewery could sell its beer in more locations around the world.  The sale netted approximately £85 million.

After the sale, independent Scottish brewer Brewdog announced that it would no longer stock Camden Town products because “it does not sell drinks made by AB InBev”.

Breckenridge Brewery, USA

The Breckenridge Brewery was launched in Breckenridge, Colorado, USA in 1990.  It is the third-oldest brewery in the state.  They make some delicious ales, including the Avalanche Ale, Breck IPA, and Summerbright Ale.

They have opened a number of brewpubs over the years throughout Colorado.  They are one of the top 50 largest craft breweries in the United States and have seen substantial growth in the past few years. In 2015, the brewery was bought by AB InBev.

BrewDog, UK
Founded in 2007, BrewDog is a Scottish craft brewer that produces over 2.2 million bottles and 400,000 cans of beer a month.  They have become know for their strong pale ales, India pale ales and porters.  They make craft beers with some bite!

They are one of the most fiercely independent craft breweries around and have spoken against large multinational breweries buying out small craft breweries.  To raise funds for the rapid expansion of their brewery, BrewDog launched “Equity for Punks” which allows supporters of the brewery to buy equity in it.  The company now has 540 employees, 32,000 shareholders and 44 bars.

Lagunitas Brewing Company, USA

The Lagunitas Brewing Company was founded in 1993 in Lagunitas, California.  They make some very interesting interpretations on traditional beer styles, including IPA, pilsener, sour mash ale, imperial stout, brown ale, and pale ale.

They were the 5th-highest selling craft brewery in the United States in 2014.  In 2015, they were partially bought out by Heineken International.  They are no longer classified a craft brewery by the Brewers Association because of the Heineken stake.

Meantime Brewery, UK

Based in Greenwich, London, Meantime Brewery has been operating since 2000.  It is an award-winning brewery that is well known for its traditional British ale beers.  In 2015, it was bought out by SAB Miller.  Four months later, Meantime was forced to admit that some production had been outsourced to Grolsch (another SAB Miller brand).  However, they claimed Grolsch beer never made up more than 10% of any bottle.

Sharp’s Brewery, UK
Founded in 1994 in Cornwall, Sharp’s Brewery sells a number of cask beers and ales.  Despite being sold to Molson Coors in 2011 for £20m, the brewery remains small scale and focusses on producing quality beer.

Four Peaks Brewing Company, USA

Founded in 1996, Four Peaks Brewing Company make a range of delicious craft beers including the Kilt Lifter (Scottish style Amber ale), 8th Street Ale (English Best Bitter ale), Hop Knot (India pale ale), The Raj (India Pale Ale) and the Sunbru (Kolsch Style Ale).  In December of 2015, the brewery was bought out by ABInbev.

Craft Brew Alliance, USA
The Craft Brew Alliance is a brewing company that owns five different craft beer and cider brands including Redhook Ale Brewery, Widmer Brothers Brewery, Kona Brewing Company, and Omission Beer.  They are the 9th largest beer brewing company in the United States, based on beer volume.  The company was formed in 2008 when Redhook Ale Brewery and Widmer Brothers brewing merged.

The Craft Brew Alliance is a public traded company.  Brewing giant Anheuser-Busch InBev has been steadily increasing their ownership in the company and now have a 32% stake.

Major Craft Brewers That Have Remained Independent

Although the big breweries continue to increase their position in the craft brewing market, many craft brewers are remaining independent. The following brewers have so far survived acquisition by multinational beer companies:

  • G. Yuengling and Son (Pennsylvania, USA)
    The oldest operating brewing company in the United States, it is still owned by the Yuengling family.
  • Boston Beer (Massachusetts, USA)
    The second largest craft brewer in the United States, it remains privately owned.
  • Schönram Brewery (Germany)
    Founded in 1780, this large craft brewery is still privately owned.
  • Sierra Nevada Brewing (California, USA)
    Sierra Nevada Brewing was founded in 1979 by Ken Grossman and remains in his hands.
  • New Belgium Brewing (Colorado, USA)
    Located in Fort Collins, Colorado, New Belgium Brewing founded in 1991. The brewery is employee owned.
  • Gambrinus (Texas, USA)
    Gambrinus is best known for its Shiner Beers, which are brewed in Texas. The company remains privately held.
  • Bell’s Brewery (Michigan, USA)
    Founded in 1983, Bell’s Brewery is based in Kalamazoo, Michigan. The brewery is best known for its award-winning Two Hearted Ale.  The company remains privately owned.

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