Good Beer Hunting

AB InBev Picks Up SpikedSeltzer

In addition to acquiring Belgium’s historic Bosteels brewery last week, AB InBev has also purchased Boathouse Beverage, which produces the SpikedSeltzer brand of hard seltzers. As with the Bosteels purchase, a valuation of the transaction was not disclosed, and ABI will now own the company outright.

The popularity of malt beverages, hard sodas, and sparkling alcoholic brands in the U.S. continues to grow apace, following the recent explosion of brands such as Small Town Brewery’s Not Your Father’s Root Beer in 2015. ABI has previously attempted to emulate the success of Not Your Father’s through the creation of Best Damn Brewing Co. The acquisition of Boathouse Beverage, which will join the company’s “High End” offerings alongside the likes of Goose Island and Elysian, is a sign that ABI is looking to strengthen and diversify this category further.

According to Brewbound’s Chris Furnani, ABI was already developing it’s own hard-seltzer brand before u-turning to instead acquire Boathouse Beverage. Perhaps they realized the cost of a new acquisition would be less than months of recipe development and market research. 

However, the new Bud Light Rita-Splash range definitely bears resemblance to SpikedSeltzer’s value proposition, and so ABI will have some internal portfolio work to do as they clarify market segments and target audiences for the brands For example, the question remains wether consumers find a meaningful difference between Bud Light Rita-Splash Lime, and a hard lime seltzer? Boston Beer Co. is also looking to diversify into this sector, with its Truly Spiked & Sparkling range of hard-seltzers.

The SpikedSeltzer brand will add something new to the ABI portfolio, as this product is aimed with the more calorie-conscious consumer in mind. The non-alcoholic flavored seltzer water category is also exploding, with brands such as La Croix rapidly becoming national favorites. With much of the focus on the beverage market on flavored seltzers such as these, ABI’s latest move seems to be a shrewd one.

—Matthew Curtis

Anheuser-Busch to Acquire SpikedSeltzer [Brewbound]