Brewscape: The Latest Craft Beer Brand News

Anheuser-Busch InBev Acquires Platform Beer Co.; Declines Option to Purchase CBA

Anheuser-Busch InBev is back in the craft beer M&A game. After a two-year hiatus following its May 2017 acquisition of Wicked Weed, the world’s largest beer manufacturer announced on August 7 the purchase of Cleveland, Ohio-based Platform Beer Co., a transaction that is expected to close in the third quarter.

Platform co-founder Paul Benner told Brewbound that the craft brewery began “exploring different investment mechanisms” about six months ago in an effort to continue the company’s upward growth trajectory. He said the “autonomy and independence” in daily decision making that A-B provides to its craft brands helped him and co-founder Justin Carson ultimately decide to partner with the company.

A-B will also provide Platform with resources to upgrade its facilities and provide its employees with additional benefits — such as improved medical, dental, vision, 401K match, and parental leave — and other professional development opportunities, Benner said.

“We want to have a place that people love to work,” he added. “[W]e’ve never been able to offer some of those resources, and now we can.”

Meanwhile, the deadline for A-B to make a qualifying offer to acquire the remaining stake of Craft Brew Alliance (CBA) passed without an offer. The world’s largest beer manufacturer, which already owns 31.3% of the smaller Portland, Oregon-headquartered craft beer maker, had until August 23 to either make an offer for the remaining stake in the company at a minimum of $24.50 per share (about $328 million) or pay a $20 million fee.

Ultimately, A-B decided to pay the one-time fee to CBA, whose brands include Kona Brewing, Widmer Brothers, Redhook, and Omission, among others.

In a statement, Andy Thomas, CEO of CBA, called A-B’s decision “disappointing” but said, now that the company’s immediate ownership situation is clear, “management can turn its attention to refining strategic alternatives to maximize shareholder value.”

“Looking to the future, we are optimistic that our healthy balance sheet, bolstered by the $20 million payment, and strategic investments in innovation and increased brand awareness will enable us to deliver long-term shareholder value,” he said.

Boston Beer Company Launches Draft Truly on Tap Offering

Truly Hard Seltzer-maker Boston Beer Company has launched Truly on Tap, a new draft-only hard seltzer, nationwide.

Boston Beer CEO Dave Burwick told Brewbound that Truly on Tap shares many of the attributes of a vodka soda, describing the offering as “effervescent,” “clear,” and “finished with a squeeze of fresh fruit,” but with a lower ABV.

“Truly on Tap is closer to original seltzer and meant to be finished off with a squeeze of fresh fruit like lemon or lime,” he said of the product, which checks in at 5% ABV and 100 calories, with 1 gram each of sugar and carbs.

According to the sales sheet, Boston Beer appears to be positioning Truly on Tap as an alternative to light beer and spirits geared towards capturing happy-hour and game-day occasions during the upcoming football season.

In other Truly news, Boston Beer is backing the brand with a national advertising campaign featuring five 15-second commercials that star comedian and actor Keegan-Michael Key.

In the ads, Key attempts to find other uses for beer, wine and spirits — watering a plant with a light beer, using a wine bottle as a candle holder, cleaning tires with vodka, substituting whiskey as lighter fluid, and varnishing a wooden chair with Scotch.