As the craft beer industry in Australia continues to grow, the normal elements of industry growth are beginning to form. One of these is the change in ownership and investment in craft beer breweries.
High profile, and well publicised buy outs by large multinational breweries are well known and are covered in our Next in Line? article and Corporate Craft Beer page, but alongside the purchasing of craft beer breweries by the big international corporates like Asahi, and ABInBev, some local companies are following in their footsteps by creating drinks brands with names that subtly hide ownership and linkages to craft beer breweries they have established or have bought.
The past few years has seen the establishment of a number of new brewery owning companies that have been buying, significantly investing in, or creating new small craft beer brands and breweries. These are:
- Founders First
- Tribe Breweries
- Good Drinks
- Vok Beverages
These holding companies own, or part own, an increasing number of craft beer breweries together with other beverage brands, as well as owning distribution companies.
Founded in 2017, Founders First is an investment company that has been rapidly expanding its investments. Founded by former employees of big corporate companies, the company raised the significant sum of $21 million to invest in a range of breweries. They listed on the ASX stock exchange in December 2019 by raising a further $17.5 million through another share offer to enable them to buy into more craft beer breweries.
So far they have bought into:
- Jetty Road Brewery (a majority stake)
- FogHorn Brewery (a majority stake)
- Sauce Brewing Co (a minority stake)
- Ballistic Beer Co (a minority stake)
- Slipstream Brewing Co (a minority stake)
- The Sparkke Change Beverage Company (a minority stake bought in November 2019)
- Hunter Beer Co (a majority stake bought in February 2020)
together with investments in:
- Something Wild Beverages (distillery)
- Brogan’s Way (distillery)
- Kangaroo Island Distillery
- K.Booch (alcoholic kombucha)
As well as buying into the above companies, Founders First have established a national sales team that distributes products from the companies, as well as purchasing venues as outlets for beers from the above breweries.
Originally starting out as a contract brewing facility called Australian Independent Brewers (AIB). After a spell in receivership, it was bought in 2012 and rebranded as BrewPack, still offering contract brewing facilities to a large range of craft beer breweries. In 2018 the company relaunched as Tribe Breweries.
With their new production facility recently opened in Goulburn, they are one of the largest craft beer brewers in the country.
Their breweries are:
- Stockade Brew Co (originally called Macarthur Grange Brewery) produced at the new Goulburn site
- Stockade Brew Co Barrel Room in Marrickville opened in 2018 as a showcase for the brand and wider company
- Mornington Peninsula Brewery – bought in August 2018
- Wilde Beer – a gluten free beer company
Originally starting out as Gage Roads Brewing, the company rebranded as Good Drinks in 2018, after buying Matso’s Brewery. The new company is expanding its range with the recent creation of Atomic Beer Project focusing on hop-driven beers.
- Gage Roads Brewing Co – the original company started in 2005, who have been changing their focus through their 5 year “Back to Craft Strategy” launched in 2016
- Atomic Beer Project – opening a small brewery and taproom in Sydney in 2020
- Matso’s Brewery – acquired 100% in September 2018
- Alby – a stand alone lager brand
they also own:
- Hello Sunshine (cider)
Originally started as Stone & Wood Group, the company that owned Stone & Wood Brewing rebranded in 2016 to Fermentum, shortly after launching Fixation Brewing and Square Keg Distribution.
Their breweries are:
- Stone & Wood Brewing – the original company started in 2008
- Fixation Brewing Co – a hop focussed brewery that opened its own brewpub in Melbourne in 2018
- Forest for the Trees Brews – a recent project brewing farmhouse, sour, and wild beers
- Square Keg Distribution – that distributes products from the other Fermentum companies and other non linked companies
- Treehouse Cider
- Granite Belt Cider Company
- Bucha (Kombucha)
Alongside the Bickfords range of soft drinks, they own or import an extensive range of products including bourbon, whiskey, brandy, rum, tequila, wine, cider and hard lemonade. The full range is here