Craft Beer Acquisitions: Sellouts or Success Stories?

Craft Beer Acquisitions: Sellouts or Success Stories?

The craft beer sector has shown a steady growth despite many small and independent breweries being acquired by beer giants.

According to the Brewers Association (BA), “in 2016, craft brewers produced 24.6 million barrels, and saw a 6 percent rise in volume on a comparable base and a 10 percent increase in retail dollar value...By adding 1.4 million barrels, craft brewer growth outpaced the 1.2 million barrels lost from the craft segment, based on purchases by large brewing companies. Microbreweries and brewpubs delivered 90 percent of the craft brewer growth.”

In an effort to continue nurturing that growth, the BA decided to create an Independent Craft Brewer Seal with the reasoning that the logo would serve as a tool for craft-beer enthusiasts to distinguish if their favorite beer was made by an independent brewer or not. In order to carry the stamp, a brewery has to meet the “craft brewer definition” determined by BA.

Craft Brewer Defined by Brewers Association

  • Annual production of 6 million barrels of beer or less (approximately 3 percent of U.S. annual sales)
  • Less than 25 percent of the craft brewery is owned or controlled (or equivalent economic interest) by an alcohol industry member that is not itself a craft brewer.
  • A brewer that has a majority of its total beverage alcohol volume in beers whose flavor derives from traditional or innovative brewing ingredients and their fermentation.

Foodable has been following the growth of craft beer in the U.S. since its inception and has reported on the origins of "Beervana," what the craft beer market expectations and challenges are, and has provided a behind the scenes look into some craft beer companies through its show Beer Artisan.

Most recently, though, the debate on what it truly means to be a craft brewer and consumer sentiments towards independent brewers who have been acquired by non-craft beer businesses have sparked Foodable’s curiosity.

Enter Foodable Labs, our sister data company which has helped us compare the overall sentiment scores for three beer brands (Four Peaks Brewing, Cigar City Brewery, and Lagunitas Brewing) before and after their acquisitions.

Each beer brand was acquired by a company with more resources with goals of amplifying the beer production as well as the reach of the craft beer’s brand.

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