USA – Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB-InBev) has agreed to sell eight craft brands from its portfolio to a Canadian cannabis company Tilray Brands for US$85 million, according to an 8-K filing by Tilray.

The deal, which is expected to close in September 2023, will significantly trim AB InBev’s craft beer portfolio while expanding Tilray’s growing craft holdings, which currently include SweetWater Brewing, Montauk Brewing, Green Flash, and Alpine Beer Co.

The deal will also elevate Tilray Brands towards becoming the fifth-largest craft beer business in the US, up from ninth overall, according to data from the Brewers Association. With the new deal, Tilray Brands has said it will triple its beer production from 4 million cases per year to 12 million.

The transaction will include current employees, breweries, and associated brewpubs. In total, Tilray will acquire production facilities in Portland and Bend, Ore., Littleton, Colo., and Patchogue, N.Y., as well as eight new brewpubs across the country.

The brands which Tilray will acquire include Shock Top; Breckenridge Brewery, Blue Point Brewing Company, 10 Barrel Brewing Company, Redhook Brewery, Widmer Brothers Brewing, Square Mile Cider Company, HiBall Energy.

Although Tilray began as a cannabis-focused brand, the company’s CEO and chairman Irwan D. Simon is enthusiastic about the potential in the craft brewing industry.

 Simon commented that the deal “solidifies the company’s national leadership position and share in the U.S. craft brewing market and marks a major step forward in our diversification strategy.”

“In a matter of three years, Tilray has solidified its leadership position in the craft beer industry, and we fully intend to be that change agent that reinvigorates the sector,” Simon said.

“Upon federal cannabis legalization, we expect to leverage our leadership position, wide distribution network, and portfolio of beloved beverage and wellness brands to include THC-based products and maximize all commercial opportunities.”

AB InBev and Tilray have had close liaisons and have worked together to co-research non-alcoholic drinks containing THC and CBD to guide their future decisions.

A few years ago, AB InBev and Tilray Brands also each invested US$50 million in a new research partnership to develop a “deeper understanding” of the cannabis beverages category in order to “guide future decisions.”

November last year, Tilray Brands also acquired Montauk Brewing Company in another move that the company stated would assist in expanding its reach across the US.

The deal saw Montauk Brewing joining SweetWater, Green Flash, and Alpine brands as the cornerstones of Tilray’s craft beer segment and as a result, offered Tilray a stronger footprint in the northeast.

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