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AB Inbev extends its US craft portfolio

The world’s largest brewer, AB Inbev, has added to its collection of smaller craft brewers with the purchase of Virginia-based Devils Backbone.

With the purchase of Devils Backbone, AB Inbev, the brewer of Budweiser, Stella Artois and Beck’s, has now bought eight US craft brewers to sit within its The High End business unit, focusing on craft and specialist import beers.

Devils Backbone was founded in 2008, and offers Vienna Lager, Eight Point IPA and Schwartz Bier as their flagship brews.

Financial terms of the deal were not announced, but the founder of Devils Backbone, Steve Crandall said: “All of our senior management are on board with this new direction and in it for the long haul. ABI will support our brand as we build out our dream of what Devils Backbone can become.

There’s been ongoing criticism, not to say scepticism, of craft brewers being bought out by larger players in the industry, with the recent sale of California-based Lagunitas to Heineken, and London’s Camden Brewery also sold to AB Inbev. Critics have voiced concern over the potential loss of independence in the craft beer scene.

However, Devils Backbone founder Steve Crandall anticipates some of this criticism, explaining that the brewery needed investment to continue its growth: “Devils Backbone was built with a unique, adventurous spirit, and our job is to preserve that culture. That being said, our vision has now outgrown our means. We still know where we want to go, but we realized we needed a partner to get there.”

Felipe Szpigel, President of AB Inbev’s The High End said: “I am both very excited but humbled because Steve and his team have built an amazing brewery, portfolio of beers and brands. Having them trust us as a long-term partner to be able to help take Devils Backbone to the next level is great.”

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