Beer, Bars & Brewers #1

Hello and welcome back! This week we take a look at the sale of Camden Town Brewery and Red Stripe, the craft industry has a problem with cans, and India’s craft beer scene continues to grow.

Happy new year to all of our hop loving readers. We hope that the next twelve months will bring only the best of brews your way. Without further ado, let’s see what happened in the beer world over the holidays.

Camden Town Brewery sold to World’s biggest Drinks Company

At the end of last year The Guardian reported that Camden Town Brewery had accepted a takeover offer from AB InBev, “in order to fund international growth plans”. This, of course, compromises the brand’s craft image. Same story as always, the craft beer scene is not too happy about this. “James Watt, founder of craft beer group Brewdog, rounded on his rival for selling out to a global behemoth of the drinks industry. He said Brewdog would no longer stock any Camden Town beers in its bars because it does not sell drinks made by AB InBev”.

Over at author Olly Wehring is confused by the whole transaction, seeing as less than a month ago “the world’s biggest brewer said it intends to listen to offers for SABMiller’s Meantime Brewing Co, which SAB bought just seven months ago”.

The author doesn’t understand what Camden Town has to offer AB InBev that Meantime doesn’t. The two breweries are similar: “both are based in London, both are playing in the same arena of craft in both the UK’s on- and off-trade. They even sell similar amounts of beer – last year Meantime shifted just under 100,000 hectolitres while Camden Town managed about 60,000 hectolitres”. The answer remains to be seen …

Heineken takes over Red Stripe

Last October it was announced that Diageo was set to sell its 57.9% stake in Jamaican brewer Desnoes & Geddes to Heineken. The Drinks Business notes that Heineken already owned 15.5% of the company, meaning its shares have now gone up to 73.3%. Managing Director David Forde says: “The beer has a rich heritage – from its links with music through the decades, to its famous cans and stubby bottles. Red Stripe brings with it a wealth of opportunities for our customers which we will support through brand investment and innovation.”

Can: We have a Problem

Drinking beers out of cans has become the norm when enjoying craft beer. However, it looks like the industry has a problem. Just this week Association Now reported on the primary can manufacturer for American small-time breweries Crown Holdings, who is having difficulty keeping up with the demand. “As a result, it has boosted its minimum order requirements to roughly 100,000 cans. And soon Crown Holdings is expected to set its minimum to a full truckload, which fits between 155,000 and 200,000 cans”. This will be a problem for small breweries.

Owner of Portland-based Maine’s Rising Tide brewery Heather Sanborn was quote “We were shocked by the news. I spent probably four very sleepless nights, literally, wondering if we were going to be able to continue with our most popular brand”, because the brewery lost its contract with Crown, “despite buying three full truckloads of cans”. The Executive Director of the Maine Brewer’s Guild Sean Sullivan “suggested that the industry’s quick growth may be at fault for the can shortage. ‘There’s just too many breweries’, Sullivan said”. Commentator SkySailorMan rightly noted that surely, too many breweries aren’t the problem. Rather, the problem is “too little cans”. The Brewers Association is keeping an eye on this problem, having noticed that “we’ve seen some of our brewery members struggle in recent months”.

India’s Craft Beer Scene

India’s Financial Express reported on a craft beer meetup that was held in Pune. The first of its kind, employers and founders of eight microbreweries had gathered to listen to Greg Koch speak on craft beer. Koch recently invested in the Independence Brewing Co., a microbrewery based in Pune. India’s craft beer scene begun to gain traction in 2009 and, according to The Financial Express, “Doolally pioneered the microbrewery concept … and worked hard at getting regulators to allow microbreweries to operate in the country”. Co-Founder of Doolally Suketu Talekar says “this business needs patience as radical reform on alcohol will not happen in the country easily as delinking craft beer from IMFL or toddy will take time”.

Pune’s big industry players are headed to Mumbai, to conquer the bigger market. In a slight critique to Koch they say that he’s “bullish” about the prospects of this business in India, as he “sees amazing potential”. An interesting market, definitely one to watch in 2016.


Foto: Photo via Shutterstock

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