Bottles of Budweiser beer sit on display.
Photograph by Chris Ratcliffe — Bloomberg/Getty Images

Big Brewer bought five craft brands last year.

By John Kell
April 12, 2016

Anheuser-Busch InBev has agreed to buy Virginia-based craft brewer Devils Backbone Brewing Company, yet another deal by the world’s largest beer producer as it more aggressively scoops up tiny rivals.

The Budweiser and Stella Artois is adding Devils Backbone to AB InBev’s craft portfolio, which also includes Goose Island and 10 Barrel. AB InBev bought four craft brewers and a cider producer in the U.S. in 2015, leading a wave of deals by Big Beer companies like Heineken and MillerCoors.

The acquisitions of Washington-based Elysian and California-based Golden Road were among the deals AB InBev announced last year.

Big Brewers are buying up their smaller rivals to add more local, regional brands at a time when those beers are posting stronger sales. Craft brewers have reported double-digit volume growth for eight consecutive years as Americans are lured by their fuller-flavored ales, including a 13% increase in 2015.

Terms of the Devils Backbone acquisition, announced on Tuesday, weren’t disclosed.

Founded in 2008, Devils Backbone produced almost 45,000 barrels in the company’s first three years. The brewer is most well known for the company’s Vienna Lager, which accounted for nearly 60% of Devils Backbone volume in 2015. Devils Backbone also operates a brewpub, Basecamp, and a brewery and taproom in Lexington, Virginia. The two locations hosted more than 500,000 guests last year, highlighting just how important the craft beer movement has become for local breweries.

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