Good Beer Hunting

Sightlines — AB InBev Picks Up Deus, Karmeliet, and Kwak Brands

Overnight the news broke that AB InBev has acquired Belgium’s historic Bosteels Brewery, producer of the Deus, Kwak, and Tripel Karmeliet brands. ABI have reportedly acquired a 100% stake in the brewery, but the value of the transaction has not been disclosed.

After multiple acquisitions in the U.S., UK and Italy, AB InBev has purchased a brewery in its home nation of Belgium. This move is fascinating for a number of reasons, not the least of which because, according to Belgian newspaper De Standaard, both Duvel and Heineken were also interested in acquiring the 225-year-old brewery.

Bosteels will join ABI’s craft and specialty network, which includes fellow European breweries Camden Town (London, England) and Italy’s Birra del Borgo. The difference between these acquisitions is the vast age gap between these breweries. Camden and Borgo have existed for six and 11 years respectively, while Bosteels, a seventh generation (formerly) family owned brewery, was founded in 1791. The traditional but highly respected beers that Bosteels produces, such as Tripel Karmeliet and Kwak, add something markedly different to the ABI craft and specialty portfolio.

Unlike with certain U.S. purchases such as Oregon’s 10 Barrel and Colorado’s Breckenridge, there’s little advantage gained in distribution as ABI are headquartered in the Belgian city of Leuven. The main advantage here is that a reported 55% of Bosteels 145,000hL (123,564bbl) annual production is earmarked for export, much of this to the U.S. Traditional Belgian beers are hugely popular in the U.S., thus the opportunity is here for ABI to grow this figure and exploit a healthy export market, as broken down by GBH's Bryan Roth in a recent piece.

Bosteels' current owner, Antoine Bosteels, will remain as CEO and had this to say about the acquisition (translated from Flemish): "It goes well with the brewery, but it can be even better. Who owns the shares ultimately plays no role, but the beer and the brewery have the best prospects."

—Matthew Curtis

Tripel Karmeliet and Kwak owned by AB InBev [De Standaard]