Why Breweries are Selling to Anheuser-Busch

In the world we are currently living in, we might be at the best possible time for the owner of a successful brewery to sell. That being said, not every brewery out there can sell, or should … but if you’re in a position to do so, this could be your time.

The breweries I’m referring to are the ones that were established in the 80s, 90s and early 2000s. They have given all they have to their business and the brewing industry for decades. They’ve had families and kids that found their own path in life — not all kids grow up wanting to operate the family business.

Some brewers out there started their breweries with friends and family members. While it might make sense to pass down the business, when your company is being valued at a billion dollars, or even a hundred million dollars, you have to seriously consider the idea that you, your kids, your kids’ kids and possibly their kids may never have to work a normal job a day in their life.

While I’m typically one of the first to buy in that it’s not all about the money, I’m also not blind to the reality that money provides comfort and a means for a certain life. The craft consumer loves that a brewery such as Breckenridge, Goose Island or many others have a local entrepreneurial appeal. But what the craft consumer doesn’t understand is the back story that many of you have lived.

As I said, if you’re looking to sell your brewery, now is the best time to do it. Evaluations may continue to rise, but consider all the things that could cause them to level out.

But why are breweries selling to ABInbev? Well, if you are looking to sell your business, you’re looking for the highest bidder, one that will help your business grow, one that will retain a lot of the employees you’ve hired over the years, and one that will still give you some say in the future of your business.

Meg Gill at Golden Road Brewing was able to build new facilities and will be able to reach distribution channels she previously couldn’t. Her dream may have been grander than she could handle on her own. She probably wasn’t looking to sell to ABInbev, but did one of her angry consumers come up and offer enough to purchase or invest in the company? Probably not.

ABInbev is purchasing breweries because they are the only legitimate game in town. The companies like New Belgium or Sierra Nevada are building new breweries across the U.S., but they could have very easily purchased Elysian Brewing. However, craft buying craft doesn’t exist in our current market. Craft breweries are focused on their own brands and making great beer at their breweries — they aren’t typically looking to purchase a second brand across the country. Likewise, the vast majority of the breweries in the U.S. couldn’t come with a real offer to purchase another brewery.

But I’m not dumb enough to think that there are breweries out there that wouldn’t love to purchase other breweries throughout the U.S. They simply don’t have the capital or the resources to do some of the things that ABInbev is doing.

While the complaining and social media bashing might make consumers feel good, in reality the dislike of the Facebook page just is a last showcase of how good of a buy your brand was for ABInbev. They don’t want to necessarily retain the consumer that drinks your beer because it’s “local” or they love what you put on social media, they want the person that drinks the beer because they love the taste and isn’t concerned about the nuances of ownership, as those are the people that will hang with you forever.

 

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