The latest development in the age-old story of multinational conglomerates acquiring craft breweries comes courtesy of Spanish company Mahou San Miguel. The company, a minority stakeholder in Founders Brewing Co., just purchased a 30 percent stake in Avery Brewing Co. of Boulder, Colorado, according to a Spanish report.
This is significant because it means Avery Brewing Co. will no longer qualify as a craft beer label, as defined by the Brewers Association. It’s perhaps worth noting that Avery Brewing Co. did not mention the 30 percent figure in its own communications about the acquisition.
Mahou San Miguel owns seven breweries in Spain and one in India, and has a portfolio that includes Mahou Cinco Estrellas, San Miguel Especial, and Alhambra Reserva 1925. The company also has partnerships with such foreign beer companies as Carlsberg and Warsteiner. Mahou San Miguel entered the U.S. market in 2011, debuting Mahou Cinco Estrellas and Alhambra Reserva 1925. These beers grew in popularity, particularly in Florida, according to the company. It made its first partial purchase of an American craft brewery when it bought a 30 percent stake in Founders of Grand Rapids Michigan.
According to the Brewers Association, which represents more than 4,000 craft breweries,“an American craft brewer is small, independent, and traditional.” That means the brewery produces 6 million barrels of beer or less annually. Independent signifies that less than 25 percent of the brewery is controlled by an alcohol industry member that is not a craft brewery. Traditional means the majority of the volume of beer produced is brewed using traditional or innovative ingredients and their fermentation.
Avery Brewing Co. may no longer be able to be defined as a craft brewery if a 30 percent stake is owned by a non-craft brewery. Time, and the Brewers Association, will tell.