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Who’s Next In Line

For the past few years we’ve been suggesting through a couple of articles called Who’s Next and Who’s Next Now? which are the most likely craft beer breweries to be bought by large corporations.

And every brewery that has been bought in that time has been included on our lists:

and now

For-Sale-sign

Since those articles, it is clear that more companies are now looking to enter the Australian craft beer industry through buy outs and equity investments.

It is not just global corporate beer and drinks companies that are looking to buy smaller, established craft beer breweries, but other companies in the wider beer and drinks industry such as pub owing groups and other alcohol production companies.

As so many of the breweries we listed have now been bought we need to 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.

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 fairly new brewery at Murwillumbah, and another new brewery opening by the end of the year back in Byron Bay.  They distribute almost nationally, and have links internationally in the UK.
  • Gage Roads Brewing: One of only two stock market listed craft breweries in the country, their Back to Craft Strategy bought out the quarter of the company that was owned by Woolworths and seen significant increases in the sales of their core beers.  They also recently bought Matso’s Broome Brewery through a share purchase scheme that was oversubscribed by a factor of four.
  • Burleigh Brewing: Now at their new site bringing all operations under one roof, they have national bottled product distribution of their international award winning beers, and have recently gone through a rebranding exercise.
  • 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.

Looking again at the list of over 500 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:

  • Green Beacon Brewing: Another strong brand that has built a new brewery in Brisbane, whilst retaining their existing brewery bar.  A strong, consistent, core range of beers are now supplemented by seasonal offerings.  They’ve also recently won a contract to supply Singapore Airlines on their flights out of Brisbane.
  • 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, over the past two years, 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 recently developed a national profile with media appearances and promotions.
  • Holgate: A significant expansion with the construction of a large new brewery at their existing site, plus a strong consistent core range of beers that are distributed nationally in keg and bottle form makes them one to have a look at.
  • Lovedale Brewery/Sydney Brewery: These linked breweries are in 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.
  • Mornington Peninsular: A strong brand, that has undergone expansion, with national distribution of both keg and packaged product.
  • Akasha Brewing Company: A strong range of consistent high quality beers, coupled with recent expansion and a small change in ownership make this a possible target.
  • Balter Brewing Company: A very strong, clear, brand driven by celebrity owners with an ever increasing distribution network leveraging off those owners coupled with a small, but high quality beer range.
  • 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 recent seasonal bar at Melbourne Airport will have raised their profile even more.

So, who will be next in line?

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