ABI Acquisition Spree Continues with Brouwerij Bosteels
Think about Corona. Think about Tripel Karmeleit. One tastes like a cholera vector, while the other is so complex that it challenges the adjective knowledge among beer geeks. In the near future, these brews will be brothers in the Big Beer house of Anheuser-Busch InBev (ABI).
This makes no sense if you think about these two beers as beers. If you think about them as strong brands that could fit into a stable of properties for a massive consumer products company, it begins to make sense. Perhaps to understand it, beer geeks should start thinking about laundry detergent.
The Bosteels family started Brouwerij Bosteels in 1791 in the town of Buggenhout, Belgium. It is currently headed by Antoine Bosteel and produces only three beers. Each has a specific glass designed for it. Bosteel is the pinnacle of quality, complexity, and old world tradition in craft beer.
While ABI has not released details, estimates put the deal at over $225,000. In late 2014, Brouwerij Bosteels entered into a financing arrangement with Dutch private equity fund Waterland. Since the terms of that arrangement were not public, their participation in this acquisition will likely remain unknown.
Antoine Bosteels will continue to run the brewery. If ABI follows suit with other craft beer acquisitions, the operation will be relatively independent. Although, production of Goose Island 312 and Honker Ale did move to Fort Collins. While simply being in a large brewery is not necessarily bad in and of itself, this does show that ABI views their properties as theirs.
Filling The Slate
Of the eight US craft acquisitions, the geography of the targets has been evenly scattered across the country. Since craft beer has a strong tie to location, ABI may be in pursuit of a national faux-local presence. If this theory is right, look at Oregon, Michigan or Vermont for the next purchase. Another interesting purchase in the last couple of weeks is Spiked Seltzer.
Proctor and Gamble doesn’t care if some consumers want soap to smell like a washed baby’s butt while others want the smell of pine needles. It’s easy enough to create a large number of brands to cover the market. In the same way, ABI appears to be responding to de-evolution of national beer brands like Budweiser. This may be a hedging strategy in case this local craze is more than a fad.