Anheuser-Busch is divesting a portion of its craft beer business to Tilray Brands, which was previously its joint venture partner for cannabis-infused beverages. The two companies announced today that they have entered into a definitive agreement for the transfer of eight of AB's beer and beverage brands.
Tilray, in its own words “is a leading global cannabis-lifestyle and consumer packaged goods company with operations in Canada, the United States, Europe, Australia, and Latin America.”
Upon satisfaction of customary closing conditions, Tilray will acquire Shock Top, Breckenridge Brewery, Blue Point Brewing Company, 10 Barrel Brewing Company, Redhook Brewery, Widmer Brothers Brewing, Square Mile Cider Company, and HiBall Energy. The transaction includes current employees, four production facilities across the U.S. (Portland, OR, Bend, OR, Littleton, CO and Patchogue, NY), and eight brewpub locations associated with these brands (Seattle, WA, Bend, OR , Portland, OR, Boise, ID, Littleton, CO, Breckenridge, CO, and Patchogue, NY)
The purchase price will be paid in all cash and the transaction is expected to close in 2023.
In December 2018, Labatt Breweries of Canada, the Candian subsidiary of AB InBev entered into a joint venture with Tilray (inside.beer, 21.12.2018) to enter the market for cannabis infused drinks. Two years later, Tilray merged its business with Aphria, another leading cannabis companies from Canada (inside.beer, 16.12.2020), that acquired shortly before SweetWater Brewing Company, one of the top fifteen craft breweries in the USA (inside.beer, 4.11.2020). By owning its own brewery in the USA, Tilray entered direct competition with Anheuser Busch for the first time, albeit on a localized scale.
Early in 2022, Tilray ended its joint venture relationship with AB InBev (inside.beer, 14.1.2022). Ten months later, Tilray acquired Montauk Brewing Company, a top craft brewer in Metro New York. This acquisition aimed to expand Tilray's US alcohol division, intensifying its competition with AB InBev in the craft beer business. (inside.beer, 7.11.2022)
The newly announced purchase of part of AB InBev’s US craft beer protfolio will elevate Tilray to the 5th largest craft beer business position in the U.S., up from the 9th, with current brands SweetWater Brewing Company, Montauk Brewing Company, Alpine Beer Company and Green Flash Brewing Company. Tilray also owns spirits brand Breckenridge Distillery, and Happy Flower CBD sparkling non-alcoholic cocktails.
Irwin D. Simon, Chairman and CEO, Tilray Brands, said, “Today’s announcement both solidifies our national leadership position and share in the U.S. craft brewing market and marks a major step forward in our diversification strategy. We are excited to work with the teams behind these iconic brands that command great consumer loyalty and have a history of delivering strong award-winning products with tremendous growth opportunities. Tilray is fully committed to invest in and champion the future of the U.S. craft beer industry by fueling new innovation that excites and further accelerates the growth of its consumer base.”
Mr. Simon continued, “Leveraging the deep CPG expertise of Tilray’s leadership team and acquisition integration track record, we intend to drive both revenue and cost synergies, while significantly expanding national distribution to coveted markets across the U.S. and internationally. In a matter of three years, Tilray has solidified its leadership position in the craft beer industry, and we fully intend to be that change agent that reinvigorates the sector. Upon federal cannabis legalization, we expect to leverage our leadership position, wide distribution network and portfolio of beloved beverage and wellness brands to include THC-based products and maximize all commercial opportunities.”
Andy Thomas, President, The High End at Anheuser-Busch said “Tilray Brands reached out to us early this year with interest in purchasing these brands and breweries, and since then, we’ve had many positive conversations that led to today’s announcement. The talented people behind these brands and breweries, along with our significant investments in them over the years, have positioned them for a bright future with Tilray Brands. We are committed to working with Tilray Brands over the coming months to ensure this is a smooth transition for the people who are working every day to get these amazing beers and beverages to consumers across the U.S.”
Ty Gilmore, President, U.S. Beer at Tilray Brands, added, "With this transaction, our beer business is expected to triple in size from 4 million cases to 12 million cases annually. Looking ahead, we will further capitalize on the potential of these brands through product innovation, retailer partnerships and expanded distribution into key markets, including the Pacific Northwest and California.”