Balter Brewing Company, an Australian Gold Coast Brewery founded in 2016 by a group of childhood friends including professional surfers Mick Fanning and Joel Parkinson, has been sold to Carlton & United Brewery (CUB). CUB, with 40% market share second biggest brewer in Australia after Kirin owned Lion with 50%, was itself sold by AB InBev to Asahi Group Holdings in July (inside.beer, 19.7.2019).
The Japanese brewery has been collecting several Australian craft breweries in recent years. In September 2015, Asahi bought Melbourne based Mountain Goat Brewery. Two years later, in September and November 2017, Sydney-based 4 Pines Brewing Company (inside.beer, 22.9.2017) and Adelaide-based Pirate Life Brewing Company (inside.beer, 30.11.2017) were acquired by AB InBev’s venture capital firm ZX Venturesand were part of the deal when Asahi acquired CUB this year. In August 2019, Asahi made another strike when it bought Brisbane-based Green Beacon BrewingCompany (inside.beer, 21.8.2109), and shortly after in October the company announced to convert a winery in Victoria's Yarra Valley into a brewery, called Matilda Bay Brewery (inside.beer, 15.10.2019). Balter Brewing Company, which is located about 100 km south of Brisbane at Australia’s Gold Coast in Queensland, is now the latest pearl in the string.
Balter has experienced strong growth in the few years of its existence and won major awards including the number one spot for the last two years straight in the GABS Hottest 100, Australia’s most prestigious craft beer awards.
CUB CEO Peter Filipovic said: “In a few short years Balter has become a craft leader through its commitment to quality and by building a brand that appeals to all beer lovers. We will help manage Balter’s strong growth through our willingness to invest, our world-class beer expertise and our customer relationships. And the terms of the deal mean the Balter team is not changing and management is staying on, which will ensure the business retains its identity and everything else that helped drive its success.”
“The deal also means we’re expanding our presence in Queensland, where we already have a significant economic footprint with our Yatala brewery employing more than 250 people,” the Filipovic added.
Balter CEO and co-founder Ant Macdonald said: “We’re proud to have grown the business to this point and we see the benefits this new partnership will bring as Balter enters its next growth phase. This deal will help us achieve our sustainability goals, upgrade capacity and hospitality at our Gold Coast brewery and create new jobs.”
“We refused to compromise on our culture or our beer as part of this deal,” Macdonald explained. “It’s a testament to CUB that they didn’t want us to. They have an amazing track record of allowing craft brands to thrive while keeping their identity and we’re thrilled to join the CUB stable.”
Indeed, this seemed a crucial point in the negotiations between the Japanese multinational brewing group and Australia’s fastest-growing independent brewer. The deal includes clauses to ensure all founders, staff, and recipes are guaranteed to remain on for the next five years. “We’re all really confident that we can forge ahead, and it’s a way for us to protect the business and the employees,” head brewer Scott Hargraves told Good Beer Hunting. “They can’t do any cross-brewing unless I approve it, which I’m not really intending to do,” he said. “There would have been no deal if that wasn’t the case.”
Co-founder Mick Fanning said: “From day one we’ve tried to not only brew the most delicious beer but create a brand that was fun and inclusive – something the Aussie public would be proud to call its own. We’re stoked Balter has connected so well with Aussies and we can’t wait to continue our journey with CUB and get good beer into the hands of more beer lovers.”