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Comment: Who’s Next?

The recent announcement of the “100%” sale of Mountain Goat to Asahi following a number of similar craft beer brewery buy-outs in the USA poses the big question – “Who’s next?”

As where one global beer brand buys, the others will surely follow. Either because it’s now the time to make that strategic move, or more likely that they don’t want to miss out, and think Asahi have clearly understood the market and are taking a lead.

For-Sale-signWe’ve already speculated about which of the current big craft beer brewers in Australia are attractive to big global beer brands listing Stone & Wood, 4 Pines, Mountain Goat, and WA’s Feral Brewing.

There are a number of factors that make an existing craft beer brewery a candidate for take over. They:

  • Have a strong brand that has been growing for some time.
  • Have some form of existing national distribution of their beers.
  • Have established a strong, consistent core range of beers, with a side brand for testing/one offs.
  • Have recently invested in new equipment, or undertaken a recent expansion.
  • Will probably soon need additional investment to grow to the next stage.
  • Have won a number of industry and consumer awards.
  • Have existing links to other breweries and beer companies internationally.
  • Are currently exporting or are ready to export.

Looking at the first four we listed:

  • Stone & Wood: They have a strong brand although one of their beer brands, Pacific Ale, is probably stronger than the brewery brand. They’ve recently undergone a double expansion with the new brewery at Murwillumbah and distribute almost nationally. They also have links internationally in the UK.
  • 4 Pines: A strong brand that has a strong sub brand in Keller Door. As well as a third sub brand in Brookvale Union producing an additional drink line in ginger beer and cider. Recent expansion in a new brewery at Brookvale also means they can service their existing national distribution channels.
  • Mountain Goat: Who’ve just been sold to Asahi.
  • Feral Brewing: A strong distinctive brand with a strong core range of beers specifically known for their hoppy style, especially the frequent award winner, Hop Hog. They also have an existing national supply chain in place.

Looking again at the list of nearly 350 breweries on our Brewery List, we’ve also identified a few more.

Using the above criteria, there are a few more that could soon become targets for buy outs:

  • Two Birds Brewing: A strong, distinctive and unique brand based on the two owners. They recently moved to a new site with new equipment and have significant regional distribution. They’ve also, over the past two years, been building links with the large UK pub company, Wetherspoons.
  • The Australian Brewery: An enviable brand name that are already exporting significant volumes of their core range to Asia. Their large, fairly new, facility in Sydney has also undergone recent expansion.
  • Young Henrys: A strong brand that has recently tried to expand. Although neither of the planned new sites have either come to fruition. Expansion space at the current Newtown facility is limited, especially with a recent diversification into spirits.  The owners have recently developed a national profile with media appearances and promotions.
  • Holgate: A well-established brand that has fairly recently had an update to match recent upgrades at the brewery. A strong consistent core range of beers are distributed nationally in keg and bottle form. A sub brand, Tank Nine, allows for consumer testing and experimentation.
  • Lovedale Brewery/Sydney Brewery: These linked breweries have recently moved out to Lovedale in conjunction with an international hotel brand. The brewery is already undergoing expansion. The Sydney brand, again is enviable and would work strongly in the export market.
  • Burleigh Brewing: Currently expanding to a new site to bring all operations under one roof, this brand has national bottled product distribution of their international award winning beers.
  • Mornington Peninsular: A strong brand, that has undergone expansion, with national distribution of both keg and packaged product.
  • Vale Brewing: A recent company rebranding has solidified the overall brand. National distribution of a strong core range of beers.

So, with Mountain Goat gone, who’s next?

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