Belgium/USA: AB InBev buys into spirits

AB InBev, the Belgium based market leader in global beer business, announced today that it has bought all of Cutwater Spirits, a San Diego based spirits company that produces a variety of mixed drinks, canned cocktails, whiskeys, vodkas, gins, and rums.

The deal will see Cutwater join Anheuser Busch’s Beyond Beer portfolio  – a unit which also includes the Spiked Seltzer (, 13.9.2016), HiBall (, 24.7.2017) and Babe Rose (, 13.3.2018) brands. With the purchase which is expected to close this spring AB InBev is preparing for a post-beer world and now features a full portfolio of alcohol options between beer, flavored malt beverages, wine and spirits.

Cutwater operates out a 50,000-square-foot production facility in San Diego’s Miramar neighborhood, which is home to numerous craft breweries, including Ballast Point (BP).

Cutwater was founded in 2016 by former BP executives. Former BP President and CEO Jim Buechler (now Cutwater President & CEO), BP COO Earl Kight (now Cutwater Chief Sales & Marketing Officer), BP COO Yuseff Cherney (whose title at Cutwater is just Founder) and BP founder Jack White (who gave some money) left the craft brewer after its sale in late 2015 to Constellation Brands for US$1 billion to “pursue other interests within the beverage alcohol space”. They have now achieved the rare task to build two very successful alcohol businesses and sell them within less than a decade to two of the largest global players in this field. Financial details about the new deal were not disclosed.

“I think it is a magical team that puts stuff like that together,” said Yuseff Cherney, who will continue lead the company together with Earl Kight, and other senior-level managers.

 “We are first and foremost a beer company,” Brendan Whitworth, AB’s vice president of sales in North America told Brewbound. “That being said, we want to be sure we are present where all consumers are. That includes adjacencies within beer, and different segments that are emerging.”

“We have tremendous respect for the brand that Cutwater Spirits has created and cultivated in just a few years and look forward to working with them to expand their premium canned cocktails to consumers across the U.S.,” said Marina Hahn, new business cofounder, Anheuser-Busch, in a statement.

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