A couple of years ago we wrote an article “Who’s Next?” listing who we thought would be the most likely craft beer breweries to be bought by large corporations.
In that article we set out a number of factors that would make craft breweries attractive to big global beer brands, and listed who we thought would be the next few that would be bought. The list of four was:
- Mountain Goat, who sold to Asahi
- 4 Pines who have just sold to ABInBev
- Feral Brewing who have just sold to Coca-Cola Amatil
- Stone & Wood who are still independently owned, although it has been rumoured have received at least one substantial offer.
We also identified Vale Brewing as a second tier target. They have just been bought by the local Bickfords drinks company.
With a number of global corporate beer and drinks companies still looking to buy smaller, established craft beer breweries, we need to update out list of who we believe are the most attractive to those big global beer brands.
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, another new brewery will soon open back in Byron Bay. They distribute almost nationally, and have links internationally in the UK.
- Pirate Life Brewing: Whilst only a couple of years old, they have expanded hugely and will soon be opening their new brewery in Adelaide. Almost constantly winning awards, they are also increasing the number of countries they export to. Their recent collaboration with Ballast Point has started their links to large US breweries.
- Gage Roads Brewing: One of only two stock market listed craft breweries in the country, their recent 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. The newly refreshed beers have also been winning some key awards.
- 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.
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.
- 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 a number of expansions.
- 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 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.
- Mornington Peninsular: A strong brand, that has undergone expansion, with national distribution of both keg and packaged product.
So, who will be next now?