AB InBev enrages craft beer lovers with Camden Town Brewery acquisition

AB InBev has agreed to buy London-based Camden Town Brewery for an undisclosed sum, in a move the craft brewer says will help expand its operations and acquire new customers, but which has drawn a mixed reaction among craft beer fans.

Camden Town Brewery: acquired by AB InBev for undisclosed sum
Camden Town Brewery: acquired by AB InBev for undisclosed sum

A brewing giant characterised by mass-market lagers is anathema to many beer aficionados.

To a large extent, the craft beer and micro-brewery industry has grown out of consumer disaffection with big, production line-produced beer brands.

One particularly damning tweet comes from BrewDog founder James Watts, who said "We will no longer be selling any @CamdenBrewery in our bars. We don’t stock @ABInBevNews beers."

London-based Camden Town Brewery produces beers including Hells Lager and Gentleman’s Wit, available on draught in pubs, as well as in cans and bottles off-trade.

The AB InBev deal came about after Camden Town Brewery raised more than £2.75m in an equity crowd-funding campaign in order to help bankroll a second brewery in London.

The independent brewer was founded by Jasper Cuppaidge, the owner of Hampstead-based pub The Horseshoe, who reassured consumers that the acquisition would mean business as usual for the brewer.

Cuppaidge has taken to Twitter to answer consumer questions about the deal, tweeting: "Same beer, same strategy, same Camden Town Brewery. This will allow us to do what we do bigger + better! (3/3)".

The deal is expected to be completed by 7 January 2016, when Camden Town Brewery will become a fully-owned subsidiary of AB InBev. Cuppaidge will remain at the helm of the company.

Camden Town Brewery started full production in 2010 with an original staff of three. It now employs 95 people and sold 12 million pints in 2015.

Camden Town Brewery beers are available in more than 1000 pubs, bars, restaurants and retailers across the UK, while it exports to overseas markets including Sweden, Australia and Japan.

Cuppaidge said: "Our growth has been phenomenal. To keep up with the demand for our distinctive beers we’ve had to look at expanding our brewing capacity and team.

"AB InBev is going to be our strategic partner, helping us maintain the character and quality of our beers, while giving us access to the investment we need to drive Camden to being ever more successful at home and abroad."

Iain Newell, AB InBev’s European director of specialities and craft, added: "We have a passion for great beer. Camden Town is a creative business with a great range of brands that will complement our existing portfolio.

"We will support their ambitious plans for the future, using our expertise and global distribution network to help them get their great beer to more people."

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