Anheuser-Busch scoops up one of country's fastest-growing craft breweries

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Photo: Vladimir Zapletin (iStock)

It’s been two years since Anheuser-Busch InBev bought its most recent craft brewery, North Carolina’s Wicked Weed, which means the global beer behomoth was due for another scoop-up. Anheuser-Busch InBev was on a tear between 2010 and 2017, acquiring 10 small and independent breweries including Goose Island, Elysian, 10 Barrel, and Golden Road. Add another brewery to that list: Ohio’s Platform Beer Co.

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Anheuser-Busch InBev today announced the “partnership,” which brings Platform’s diverse lineup of beers—even among craft breweries—into its Brewers Collective fold. Founded in 2014, Platform has taprooms in Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Columbus, plus a 60-barrel production brewery in Cleveland. It was the fastest-growing regional brewery in 2017, which no doubt made it attractive to AB. Craft breweries, as defined by the trade group Brewers Association, must be small and independent, meaning less than 25% of the company is owned by “a beverage alcohol industry member that is not itself a craft brewer.” Platform would no longer fit that definition.

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“In speaking with the other craft brewery founders in Brewers Collective, we know partnering with Anheuser-Busch means we will have the resources and the autonomy to bring our vision for Platform Beer Co. to life,” Platform co-founder Paul Benner said in a press release announcing the deal. “Being able to continue leading the day-to-day operations was an important factor in our decision and we have no doubt that this partnership will benefit our loyal staff and passionate customer base.”

Financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed in the release.

If you need to sort through your feelings about this latest craft beer acquisition, may we recommend this interview?

Kate Bernot is a freelance writer and a certified beer judge. She was previously managing editor at The Takeout.

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DISCUSSION

I don’t know Platform, but I always hate to see this. I’m not incredibly concerned with whether it’s considered “craft” or not any longer, but the more space AB-InBev buys on craft shelves all over the country, the more they’ll be pushing out the little guys. And as someone in one of the largest beer hubs in the country (Chicago), there are still a bunch of AB brands that don’t even distro here, so I can’t even entirely call expanded footprint a benefit to their acquisitions.

I’m wondering if we’ll slowly see more deals like Dogfish Head/Sam Adams in the future; the big craft guys realizing they can’t beat Big Beer alone, but not wanting to sell to Big Beer either.