Miller Lite and Coors Light producer MillerCoors is on a bender for craft brewers.
On Thursday, the nation’s second-largest brewer after Anheuser Busch-InBev (BUD) announced it had acquired a majority stake in Texas-based Revolver Brewing. That brewer is mostly known for the flagship brand Blood & Honey, which is a fast-growing craft beer in the Dallas-Fort Worth market. Founded in 2012, Revolver Brewing is a tiny player in the craft beer market, only distributing beers within the state of Texas.
That could soon change. When smaller brewers like Revolver Brewing join forces with big rivals like MillerCoors, one key advantage of such a deal is the ability to tap the big brewer’s vast distribution network and sales and marketing teams.
MillerCoors has now announced three craft beer deals this summer. Last month, the company separately disclosed majority stakes in Oregon-based Hop Valley Brewing Company and gobbled up a larger stake in Terrapin after initially buying a minority interest in 2012.
That steady pace of investment mirrors what the industry saw when Anheuser Busch-InBev made a handful of craft beer deals in late 2015. Big brewers have increasingly struck deals with their smaller rivals to gain access to more fast-growing regional brands at a time when consumers are drinking less of some of the industry’s biggest ales. While the overall beer market fell 0.2% by volume last year, 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.
MillerCoors keeps the craft brands all under one roof, a separate business unit it calls Tenth and Blake. That unit now comprises of six brands: Blue Moon, Leinenkugel, Terrapin, Saint Archer, Hop Valley, and Revolver Brewing. As in all other craft beer deals that MillerCoors has made, the management and employees that currently work at Revolver will continue to brew, package and sell that brand’s portfolio.