The craft brewing scene in Colorado is getting reduced by one. Breckenridge Brewery is being bought by Anheuser-Busch InBev, the maker of Budweiser.
"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 the 25-year-old Breckenridge Brewery. "We’re looking forward to utilizing resources like decades of research and brewing expertise as we continue to create new beers."
Denver7 reached Usry by email and asked if the ultimate goal was to be bought by a larger brewery.
"Absolutely not. We've been in brewing beer in Colorado for over 25 years. We're proud of what we've established through the years with the support of our community. This partnership will allow us to continue doing what we're passionate about; making quality beer that people in Colorado and around the country can continue to enjoy," said Usry.
We also asked if Breckenridge has lost its craft brewery status as a result of this sale.
"We think the definition of craft is evolving. Quality is what makes great craft beer, and we will have the same focus on quality as ever before. We'll continue to innovate, as well. What it comes down to is what's in the glass and the people behind the beer. All of our employees will remain in place with the same mission as always," said Usry.
Breckenridge is the 50th largest craft brewer in the United States.
"They're no longer a craft brewer, they're owned by a multi-national company headquartered in Belgium," said Eric Wallace, co-founder of Left Hand Brewing Company in Longmont.
A-B InBev is headquartered in Belgium. Left Hand Brewing is the 40th largest craft brewer in the U.S. and the fourth largest in Colorado.
"(A-B InBev) has pretty much ridiculed and made fun of craft beer and said that we were a fad. From our perspective, they're buying what we considered our brethren and using them against us in the marketplace," said Wallace. "If you're brewing your beer in a multi-million barrel brewery, you have economies of scale that craft brewers don't have access to."
Wallace said he gets calls from larger beer corporations and lets them know he is not interested.
"We always talk here that our cash flow is our life line to remaining righteously independent," said Wallace. "Change the world through better beer, that's the ultimate goal. Not everyone seems to share those values."
"Staying small has a hands-on feel that we're working really hard to keep," said Chad Melis, marketing director for Oskar Blues in Longmont. "The goal is to do something that's fulfilling and something that's really fun. I think we're just more interested in doing what we do than fielding phone calls about doing what somebody else wants us to do."
Oskar Blues is the state's second largest craft brewery. New Belgium, maker of Fat Tire, is Colorado's largest.
Oskar Blues has a brewery in Longmont and a second brewery in Brevard, North Carolina, a town of about 7,000.
"We've announced we're going to open another brewery in Austin in April, and we found a growth plan that is simple and fulfilling and kind of works for us," said Melis. "Opening another small brewery in North Carolina, opening another one in Texas, as opposed to building a big box factory, has been something that has made evident that the smallness of the family is really important to the reason we come to work every day."
At the Oskar Blues Brewery, brothers David and Shaun Lazarz differed on how snobby of a beer drinker they would be.
"I'm still new to the whole craft beer scene. As long as it tastes the same, I don't think I'm going to care too much," said David Lazarz. "If it's beer and it tastes good, I'll drink it."
"I choose my beers based off of the whole Colorado microbrew scene," said Shaun Lazarz. "I can't really consider Breckenridge a real Colorado beer anymore. I'll be less likely to purchase it."
Breckenridge Brewery will continue to make its unique portfolio of beers, Anheuser-Busch said – including their Vanilla Porter, Agave Wheat, seasonal specialties and barrel-aged beers.
Breckenridge Brewery, which sells its product in 35 states, is the seventh craft brewery to join The High End, Anheuser-Busch’s business unit of craft and import brands.
“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,” said Andy Goeler, CEO, Craft, The High End.
"Our brewpub in Breckenridge, our Littleton brewery and its Farm House restaurant are all part of this new entity," Breckenridge Brewery said in a statement on their website. "Other properties under the Breckenridge-Wynkoop umbrella will continue to be owned and operated by B-W and are not part of this arrangement."
It hasn't been announced how much the deal, which is expected to close early next year, was worth. According to the Denver Post, the deal includes the new brewery and Farm House restaurant, and the original brewpub in Breckenridge.
Breckenridge-Wynkoop LLC will continue to own and operate 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.
AB-InBev announced on Monday it was acquiring London craft brewer Camden Town Brewery.