AB InBev acquires US craft brewer Platform Beer Co

Global brewery giant Anheuser-Busch InBev has acquired Cleveland-based Platform Beer Company – one of the fastest growing independent breweries in the US – for an undisclosed sum.

The Cleveland Brewery, which was founded in 2014 as an incubator for brewers, will join the brewery giant’s ‘Brewers Collective’ of recently acquired craft brands in the deal that is expected to go through over the summer.

The brewery, which saw production rise from 6,500 barrels to 20,000 barrels in 2017 and is set to double this again this year, has sites in Ohio’s three largest cities, a brewhouse and taproom in Cleveland, a warehouse and distribution centre in Columbus that doubles as a tasting room, and a tasting room in Cincinnati.

Brewers Collective president Marcelo Michaelis said the company had been attracted to Platform’s “experiential mindset”, which has seen it create more than 200 unique beers per year.

“We look forward to supporting their growth plans as they continue to push boundaries through their intrinsic craft values of education, connection and collaboration. It’s this growth that will give beer drinkers access to even more choices in today’s competitive and dynamic beer market,” he said.

In a company release, Platforms’ co-owner Paul Benner said he knew from speaking to other craft brewery founders in the Brewers Collective that partnering with Anheuser-Busch meant it would “have the resources and the autonomy to bring our vision for Platform Beer Co. to life,”

“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,” he said.

The company pointed out the move will allow it to provide staff with benefits such as “robust healthcare benefits including parental leave” better pension schemes (401K) and growth opportunities to make it “an even better place to work and grow”.

According to local newsite Cleveland.com, Benner said the company would stay true to the core to what had made Platform what it is, retaining “an ever-changing, unique approach to how we brew our beers”.

“The decision as far as what beers we make, when we make, it was really important for us that that was something we can continue to decide,” he said, adding. “We were given that freedom through this partnership to continue to innovate.”

The brewery giant has not acquired any craft producers since it bought Wicked Weed Brewing in 2017, but its craft portfolio includes Chicago’s Goose Island, Blue Point Brewing Company, 10 Barrels Brewing Co., Breckenridge Brewery, Devils Backbone Brewing Company, Elysian Brewing Company, Four Peaks Brewing Co., Golden Road Brewing, Karbach Brewing Co., Veza Sur Brewing Co., and Virtue Cider.

Earlier this year it bought consumer review site RateBeer.

The St Louis-based Anheuser-Busch (the US division of Belgian brewer AB InBev) was named as the largest brewery in the US, including craft beer in the US by the Brewer’s Association in March and last month reported its strongest second quarter in over five years on the back of its premium and global beer brands, although its US volume sales shrank by 2.4% after the brewer brought forward its planned October price hikes to April.

Earlier this year, the brewer agreed a sale of its Australian subsidiary Carlton & United Breweries to Japanese drinks giant Asahi in a deal worth AU$16 billion, which will be used to pay off debt accrued from acquiring SABMiller in 2016.

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