Carlsberg has bought London Fields Brewery, a craft brewery based in the center of UK’s capital, for an undisclosed sum. The brewery was up for sale since last year for £1m ($1.3m) after founder Jules De Vere Whiteway-Wilkinson was charged with several counts of tax fraud. Carlsberg said the business would be run in a joint venture with iconic US craft brewery Brooklyn Brewery, with which the Danish company signed a UK distribution deal in 2016. Brooklyn Brewery in turn sold 24.5% of its shares to Japanese brewer Kirin in October 2016 (inside.beer, 12.10.2016).
London Fields Brewery brews some of London's trendiest beer brands, namely Hackney Hopster, Love Not War, Easy IPA and Shoreditch Triangle IPA. The brewery was set up in August 2011, in Hackney, a borough in the center of London/UK.
"We’re thrilled to add London Fields Brewery to our growing portfolio of great quality craft and specialty beers,“ said Julian Momen, CEO of Carlsberg UK. "Our customers, and specifically those in London and other major cities, are looking to us to offer them the best possible range of interesting craft beers – and we think that, with nurturing, London Fields Brewery has huge potential."
London Fields Brewery is already the third London craft brewery to be bought by industrial breweries. Greenwich based brewer Meantime, was bought by SABMiller in May 2015. As part of the sale of SABMiller to AB InBev, Meantime was passed on to Japanese brewer Asahi in 2016.
At the end of 2015, AB Inbev bought Camden Town Brewery, also centrally located in London/UK near Regents Park.
For long time Carlsberg took a different approach in respect to craft beer than its rivals. While brewing groups with a strong presence in the United States like AB InBev, Molson Coors and Constellation Brands were picking up one craft brewery after another and pushing them to new dimensions, the Danish brewer relied on developing own brands.
In 2014, Carlsberg opened also in partnership with Brooklyn Brewery its first craft brewery, Nya Carnegiebryggeriet, in Sweden and expanded the concept to other cities like Trondheim in Norway. “We’re creating our craft propositions not from the big-company machine down, but almost from the grass roots up,” said Paul Davies, head of craft and speciality beer at Carlsberg in May 2017.
In addition, Carlsberg developed its Belgium abbey beer brand Grimbergen, which it bought back in 2008. Last year, the brand experienced an impressive 25% growth.
In June 2017, Carlsberg launched in the UK a new craft portfolio with 65 beers and ciders to support operators in recommending different brews for the meals. The Crafted Handbook features in its fourth year now beer from the Carlsberg Group global portfolio and from Carlsberg UK’s third party partners. “We are committed to developing and growing the craft beer category, which has seen huge growth in popularity over recent years. Through significant investment and innovation, Carlsberg UK has successfully attracted new drinkers to the broader beer category,” marketing manager for Crafted at Carlsberg UK, Adrian Rigby, said.