News Wait, What? Original Owners of Appalachian Mountain Buy Brewery Back from ABInBev

There have been many twists and turns in the history of the craft brewing movement. Without a doubt, one of the most pivotal points along the 40-plus year timeline was when the large global breweries began buying up independent craft breweries in earnest in the early 2010’s. Those of us in the industry wondered where it would lead. Today, maybe we have a hint; the original owners of a brewery that was acquired by ABInBev announced that they have bought the brewery back. Beginning of a trend?

In an odd twist, Nathan Kelischek and Chris Zieber, the original founders of Appalachian Mountain Brewery in North Carolina, just bought the brewery back from ABInBev. This is the second brewery that ABInBev has off-loaded this year. In February, they shut down Platform Beer Company in Ohio. Later that month, an undisclosed number of employees were laid off at some of its other acquired craft breweries.

This certainly does not mean that ABI will suddenly dump all their remaining craft breweries. Some are undoubtedly performing well and serving the primary purpose of the acquisition by ABInBev which was to satisfy their wholesalers need and appetite for craft beer to compete in the retail marketplace. But it is a bit refreshing to hear a different tune. Remember the canned and oft repeated statement by the owners who sold their craft brewery to a global giant that “nothing would change” and that they sold to “stay competitive.”

“We’re grateful to have spent the last two years as active founders within A-B’s craft portfolio and want to thank the people at A-B, including our fellow craft brewery founders, for the support, collaboration and friendship that we’ve enjoyed during our time together,” said a company statement on the Appalachian Mountain Brewery website.

Better, but still sounds a bit contrived.

Appalachian Mountain was acquired in 2018 by Portland-based Craft Brew Alliance, which was partially owned by ABI at the time. The Craft Brew Alliance was then acquired in full by ABI in 2020, bringing all of the individual breweries under Craft Brew Alliance under full ABI ownership.

More on the story here.

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