5 Craft Beer Targets for AB InBev
Two weeks after the announcement of Elysian Brewing being acquired by AB InBev, and their sluggish Budweiser brand taking a shot at craft beer during the Super Bowl, there is still plenty of chatter about the bitter dynamic between the corporate giant and the vocal craft beer community. Just this weekend, a sensationalized article was written about AB InBev having interest in Tampa Florida’s Cigar City Brewing. While you and I might love Cigar City Brewing, not every awesome craft brewery seems like an ideal fit for the international beverage monopoly. Extracted from all of the hullabaloo of that story, was Cigar City owner saying they only entertained one meeting and declined further. God knows how many righteous craft brewers entertain at least one meeting with AB-InBev to see what’s on the other side of the fence, or to see what their perceived value is. Fair enough if you ask me.
While Cigar City Brewing doesn’t seem like a good fit for their growing crafty portfolio, here are a handful of breweries that I do think have a big target on their back for AB-InBev. This list does not reflect my desire for these companies to be acquired nor does it reflect the listed breweries desire to be acquired.
BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse
With 148 locations across 18 US states, BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse seems like a great brand to acquire. As of this writing, they are valued at $44.92 a share, and with the direction craft beer is going, it doesn’t seem like a bad investment. If you haven’t been to a BJ’s, think of a similar format to Applebees or TGI Friday’s, and draws a similar 21-30 year old crowd. Many locations used to brew the beer out of the restaurant, from our research, most of it is now brewed out of Arizona.
Green Flash Brewing
There has been a very weak rumor that’s been floating around for years that Green Flash has been in talks with AB InBev, with nothing to back it up besides speculation. Green Flash Brewing has grown from a local San Diego favorite to a national craft beer powerhouse over the past 12 + years. They are in the midst of bringing up their east coast brewery in Virginia Beach, reformulated some of their flagship beers for longer shelf life, and have retooled their look for wider appeal. Green Flash seems to have appeal to the younger craft beer drinking segment with their branding and average ABV, something AB-InBev hasn’t tapped into yet outside of Bourbon County Stout.
Golden Road Brewing
While only 3 years old and change, Golden Road Brewing seems like a great buy for AB InBev. Their branding is heavily tied to Southern California/Los Angeles, which seems like the most attractive aspect a potential acquired brewery can have. Golden Road has penetrated the retail sector faster than any other startup brewery I’ve ever seen. Whether it be Whole Foods, grocery stores, big box chains, or the airport, you will see Golden Road in California. They are in the middle of making their second destination in Orange County, so their capacity also makes them an attractive buy.
Karl Strauss Brewing
Going on it’s 26th year, San Diego’s most mature brand in the craft sector has been a very focused, steady growing company. They have a core lineup of beers that comes across as very safe, and thus very attractive to a broad range of beer drinkers. They currently have 8 brewpubs outside of their production facility in San Diego proper, and just recently expanded to Northern California after all these years. Being acquired by AB InBev would take this classic brand national for sure.
While SweetWater has very bold branding that includes sexual and marijuana related innuendo, they make a very approachable lineup of beer that is penetrating (see what I just did there) the South more and more each year. While the culture and branding doesn’t jive with corporate America, there’s no doubt that SweetWater would be a great buy for AB-InBev.
Would you agree with these picks, do you have your own? Please share your thoughts in the comment section at the bottom of this page.
Link to article about Cigar City meeting with AB InBev: http://tbo.com/news/politics/anheuser-busch-interested-in-buying-tampas-cigar-city-brewing-20150208/