Since 2015 we’ve been identifying through a number of articles called Who’s Next, Who’s Next Now?, and Who’s Next in Line which are the most likely craft beer breweries to be bought by larger corporations.
And every brewery that has been bought in that time has been included on our lists:
- Mountain Goat, who sold to Asahi
- 4 Pines who sold to ABInBev
- Feral Brewing who sold to Coca-Cola Amatil
- Pirate Life Brewing who sold to ABInBev
- Vale Brewing who sold to the Bickfords drinks company.
- The Australian Brewery who sold to the Redcape Hotel Group Ltd, the national pub owning group
- Mornington Peninsular who sold to Tribe Breweries, the owners of Stockade Brew Co
- Green Beacon Brewing Company who sold to Asahi
- Balter Brewing who have just sold to ABInBev’s CUB which could soon itself be bought by Asahi
As part of the usual growth of an industry sector, there are mergers, and buy outs. With the Australian craft beer industry continuing to grow this is likely to continue for a few years.
As well as the global corporate beer and drinks companies that are looking to buy smaller, established craft beer breweries, other companies in the wider beer and drinks industry such as pub owing groups and other alcohol production companies have started to emerge and are buying into existing breweries.
After each batch of breweries that have been bought, we update out list of who we believe are the most attractive to buyers looking to profit from the ever growing rise in craft beer.
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.
- Are in a geographic market area that the major company has little or no current offering.
With the last point, it is clear that the major companies are looking to buy at least one craft beer brewery in each of the capital cities, then expand that brand into the other capitals which was a core element of ABInBev’s strategy in the USA. With the planned sale of ABInBev’s Australian operations (CUB) to Asahi, they will now own the Mountain Goat, Green Beacon, 4 Pines, Pirate Life, and Balter brands and therefore have key brands in the Melbourne, Brisbane, Sydney, and Adelaide areas. It is also likely that other global companies will be looking to establish a presence in Australia to offset this dominance by Asahi.
With all the above in mind, those we think meet all of these criteria are:
- Stone & Wood: They have a strong brand although one of their beer brands, Pacific Ale, is probably stronger than the brewery brand. Alongside the big production brewery at Murwillumbah, they have another new brewery and “home” back in Byron Bay. They distribute nationally, and have links internationally in the UK.
- Burleigh Brewing: The new site brought all operations under one roof. Alongside canning their beers, they have rebranded giving a much needed boost to consolidate their beers into a much more recognisable range that has national distribution.
- Hawkers Beer: With one of the largest production capacities in the country, and winning beer awards around the world, the recent push into national distribution and the new, almost weekly, addition of limited edition small batch makes them a clear target. They’ve also recently changed their core line up of beers.
- Capital Brewing Co: Recently expanded their existing site in Canberra, which alongside their well crafted brand and winning awards for their high quality beers makes them a clear target in a growth region close to Sydney.
- Moon Dog Brewing Co: The opening of their new brewery at Moon Dog World, improving quality and consistency, national distribution and a strong brand make them one of the emerging targets.
- Gage Roads Brewing: One of only two stock market listed craft breweries in the country, their Back to Craft Strategy has seen significant increases in the sales of their core beers. After they bought Matso’s Broome Brewery they launched the Atomic Beer Project which is opening its own brewery in Sydney.
- Holgate Brewhouse: A new brewhouse, a successful crowd funding share offering, grants from the government, and canning their beers are all factors making this older craft brewery a much more attractive target.
- Black Hops Brewing: A second brewery, a well publicised brand with high loyalty, several successful crowd funding and share sales are making this Gold Coast brewery an interesting target.
Looking again at the list of nearly 700 breweries on our Brewery List, we’ve also identified a few more that meet most of those criteria and could be targets for buy outs:
- Two Birds Brewing: A strong, distinctive and unique brand based on the two owners. They’ve recently expanded at their newish site and have significant regional distribution. They’ve also been building links with the large UK pub company, Wetherspoons.
- Young Henrys: A strong brand that has had a number of false starts on expanding, and so have continued to grow on their existing site. The owners have developed a national profile with media appearances and promotions, with their beers available in most places around the country due to their contract brewing.
- Sydney Brewery: Two breweries, in Sydney and an expanded Hunter Valley site in conjunction with an international hotel brand. The Sydney brand would easily work strongly in the export market.
- Akasha Brewing Company: A strong range of consistent high quality beers, coupled with recent expansion make this a possible target.
- Stomping Ground Brewing Co: One of the newer start ups that have really made an impression through their excellent beers, and probably the best beer venue in the country. Their new permanent bar at Melbourne Airport, and a second Melbourne venue will have raise their profile even more.
- Cheeky Monkey Brewing Co: Another that has recently rebranded, built a new brewery and is beginning to widen their distribution after winning awards.
- Wayward Brewing Co: Ever expanding, with a large and very successful venue in Sydney, a revamped core range and increasing distribution make this a potential target to push into a more national brand.
- Hop Nation Brewing Co: Building a new brewery on the back of a strong brand of consistently high quality award winning beers, they will soon become an interesting target.
- Otherside Brewing Co: One of the newer WA breweries that’s expanding rapidly with a clear brand, wide range of core and specialised beers and wide distribution.
- Philter Brewing: A strong brand, with an excellent range of beers, that has gained significant followers as a contract brewer is now opening it’s own site in the Capital of Craft Beer, Marrickville. It’s certainly following a path towards becoming a target.
There are a few others that have the potential to become targets including Felons Brewing Co due it’s easy brand, excellent location, and high turnover brewpub, Range Brewing due to their hugely impressive beers which will soon be winning many awards, Mismatch Brewing Co who’ve gone from a contract brewer to their own site and great beers, and Big Shed Brewing Concern who’ve just opened their new brewery and have a varied range of excellent appealing beers.
So, who will be next in line?