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A-B Acquiring Virginia’s Devils Backbone

Beer Business Daily:

We’d heard the rumors, and now it’s true: Anheuser-Busch has just announced an agreement to acquire Devils Backbone Brewing Company (born circa 2008) for its portfolio in “The High End.” DB is the largest and fastest-growing craft brewery in the state of Virginia. It’s a fast-growing area for craft at the moment, and one in which A-B hasn’t yet had their hand.

Of course, cofounder and CEO Steve Crandall said the brewery “will retain a high level of autonomy and continue its own authentic DNA within The High End framework.” The existing management team “plans to stay on board for many years, while continuing to innovate and bring locally crafted Virginia beer to the nation.”

The VA brewer is best known for its flagship Vienna Lager, which accounted for nearly 60% of Devils Backbone volume in 2015.

First Beverage Group acted as financial advisor to Devils Backbone Brewing Company. The deal is expected to close in the second quarter. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Some background: DB’s first brewpub, Basecamp, preceded their Outpost facility in Lexington, Virginia. “Originally projected to produce 10,000 barrels of beer in its first ten years, the Outpost produced almost 45,000 barrels in its first three,” per release. “Steve credits much of this early success to the excellent network of distributors within his system, which is weighted heavily towards Anheuser-Busch.”

The deal follows A-B’s pattern of picking up taprooms: “Today, the Outpost Brewery & Taproom in Lexington serves as the primary production brewery while the Basecamp Brewpub & Meadows in Roseland, serves as a visitor destination. Devils Backbone takes full advantage of the scenic 100-acre Basecamp property surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains, offering a variety of opportunities for guests to enjoy the outdoors. In 2015, the two locations hosted more than 500,000 guests.”

For his part, High End President Felipe Szpigel said DB has “shown creativity and talent with the great beers they brew, and they’ve been able to use the authentic offerings at Basecamp Brewpub & Meadows to cultivate a fun, outdoor lifestyle that resonates with everyone. Pair these qualities with dynamic leadership and a dream to do something bigger, and you have the recipe for an even more promising future.”