Australia has a habit of following trends from the USA. That’s been clear from the growth in craft beer sales and the number of new breweries opening in the last two years.
The past week in the USA has seen some significant changes, with the giants of the global beer industry buying up craft beer breweries.
Early this week it was announced that Lagunitas had sold 50% of itself to the German global giant Heineken for $500m. Heineken produces 9% of the world’s beer.
Now, San Diego’s Saint Archer Brewing Co has sold a majority of itself to MillerCoors, part of the global giant MolsonCoors which produces 15% of the world’s beer.
This comes after Anheuser-Busch InBev bought both Oregon’s 10 Barrel Brewing and Seattle’s Elysian Brewing earlier this year. AB InBev produce 20% of the world’s beer.
Other recent changes include Spain’s San Miguel buying Founders Brewing, and Full Sail being sold to a private equity firm.
And on top of this, the co-founder and CEO of Stone Brewing, has announced he is moving from that role to executive chairman of the company to ‘focus on long-term strategic planning for the company”. A transition that frequently indicates the start of the company preparing itself for a sale. Stone Brewing are the ninth largest US brewer, who recently started to expand beyond their home turf by announcing plans to open a brewery in Germany.
Do all these changes mean that the same will happen here?
More than likely, but it may be a few years off as at the moment there aren’t too many Australian Craft Beer breweries that are of a size that might interest any of the big global breweries.
Likely targets are the larger breweries that have some degree of national coverage such as Stone & Wood, 4 Pines, Mountain Goat, or even WA’s Feral Brewing.
It will also depend on the size of the domestic sakes of craft beer. At the moment it is estimated at between 3% and 5% of total sales. Whereas in the US it is 11%. There are nearly 3,500 craft beer breweries in the USA whilst here there are only 333 breweries.
I think it will happen, but not for a while as there are still plenty of independent craft beer breweries in the US to buy before they start heading down under. But it will probably mean that more US craft beer will be heading this way soon.