ABI on a Craft Shopping Spree; Breckenridge Brewery the Latest

FILED DECEMBER 22, 2015

Dear Client:

Anheuser-Busch InBev is certainly ending the year with a bang. Over the past three weekdays, Anheuser-Busch InBev has acquired three craft brewers. The shopping spree started last Friday with the acquisition of Tempe's Four Peaks Brewing Co. then continued Monday when ABI brought on London's Camden Town Brewery. Now, the latest brewer to be consecutively snatched up is Colorado's Breckenridge Brewery.

First Beverage Group acted as the financial advisor on the deal, which is expected to close in the first quarter of next year. Financial terms were not disclosed.

"We're excited about the partnership and have been encouraged to continue on our path and become more innovative moving forward," said Todd Usry, President of Breckenridge Brewery. "I'm a believer in what The High End is focused on accomplishing and we are flattered that our team was chosen to help guide that journey. We're looking forward to utilizing resources like decades of research and brewing expertise as we continue to create new beers."

Breckenridge, a 25-year-old brewer, produced 64,000 barrels last year - good enough to take the last spot on the most recent Brewers Association Top 50 U.S. Craft Brewers list. This year they're expected to sell 70,000 barrels and production should significantly increase in the coming years, as Breckenridge recently completed a $20 million destination brewery in Littleton, Colorado.

The agreement includes the new Littleton brewery and Farm House restaurant, as well as the original brewpub and current innovation center in Breckenridge.

Breckenridge currently operates a number of brewpubs and ale houses in Colorado. But the current management group, Breckenridge-Wynkoop, will continue to own and operate these remaining businesses including: Ale House at Amato's in Denver; Breckenridge Ale House in Grand Junction; Breckenridge Colorado Craft in Denver; The Cherry Cricket in Denver; Mainline in Fort Collins; Phantom Canyon Brewing Co. in Colorado Springs; and Wynkoop Brewing Company in Denver.

The craft brewer currently holds a decent sized footprint, with a presence in 35 states.

"Breckenridge Brewery has a long history of innovation and they continue to brew new and exciting beers, from their specialty brews like the Mountain Series that celebrates the brewery's origin as a ski town brewpub, to their planned nitro can series," said Andy Goeler, CEO, Craft, The High End. "They are innovative and have built an amazing business that's enabled them to get their great beers to fans across the country. We look forward to even more growth together."

Stay tuned. We hear there are more acquisitions in the works for A-B's High End.

A-B UPDATES INCENTIVE PROGRAM

Anheuser-Busch has announced an updated wholesaler incentive program "developed with input from the Panel" in order to be more "inclusive and beneficial.
Updates include:

Lowering the threshold for participation.
Adding a small craft beer provision - which includes 93% of craft breweries in America, at the highest level of benefit.
Enhancing the benefits to wholesaler partners.
All wholesalers now eligible to receive benefits, regardless of A-B volume percentage."
A-B also noted that they have an "individualized tool to measure potential benefits" in the works and will be available upon request in the near future.

A-B's field sales teams will hit markets in January to answer any questions.

A BUSY FALL AND WINTER FOR ABI

Just over the last month A-B has acquired three craft breweries with likely more to come, they've put together the biggest beer deal ever in combining with SABMiller, they're selling Peroni and Grolsch, they're facilitating the sale of SABMiller's stake in MillerCoors to Molson Coors, they're listing on the J'Burg stock exchange, they've testified before the Senate on alleged antitrust practices, they're dealing with an investigation from the CA AG and US DOJ on summer branch and brewery consolidations, they've rolled out and tweaked their distributor incentive program, they're prepping recently purchased craft brewers for extended territory rollouts, they sold parts of their Colorado branch operations to Steven Busch (others offered deal if they would agree to limit competitive brands, we've heard), incoming Panel chair acquiring territories in AL and NC, and so on. Busy busy busy.

THE CLASS ACTION LAWSUITS OVER ORIGINS CONTINUE; GUINNESS' EXTRA STOUT NOW UNDER FIRE

Shortly after the lawsuit filed against Foster's last week surrounding its origins, [see BBD 12-16-2015], a Massachusetts consumer filed a similar suit against Guinness in federal court, "alleging deceptive labeling and marketing," per Bev Law. The plaintiff Kieran O'Hara claims Diageo and Diageo Guinness USA represent "that all Extra Stout sold in the North America is brewed in Ireland at the historic St. James's Gate Brewery in Dublin" even though some is brewed and bottled in New Brunswick, Canada.

The plaintiff feels he and other consumers were duped into paying a premium because "Extra Stout's outer packaging does not mention, reference and/or indicate that Extra Stout is manufactured, brewed, bottled and/or imported from Canada." Plus, "Extra Stout's label only contains one small print disclosure on the back label of the bottle acknowledging that Extra Stout is actually brewed and bottled in New Brunswick, Canada."

BEER BRIEFS:

BEER WHOLESALERS ASSOCIATION OF NEW JERSEY GRABS NEW EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR. The Beer Wholesalers Association of New Jersey has named Michael I. Halfacre as Executive Director. Michael will supersede Robert J. Pinard who has held the position since 1992. Michael has amassed 25 years of experience as an attorney and currently serves as Of Counsel to the Genova Burns law firm. Recall, Michael previously served as the Director of the New Jersey Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control.

BEER SUMMIT ROOM BLOCK OPEN UNTIL DEC 29. Summiteers, please note that our Beer Summit room block at The Roosevelt in New Orleans will only be available until next week, December 29. Rooms are going fast so book yours today by calling (504) 648-1200 or by visiting this website.

We are nearly sold out. To register or learn more, visit our website here.

Until tomorrow, Harry

"There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle." - Albert Einstein

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