Carlsberg takes minority stake in Chinese craft brewer

Carlsberg has acquired a minority stake in a Chinese craft brewer Jing-A, set up in 2012 with “a couple of 20-litre buckets, a handful of ingredients and a dream to brew the best possible beer in China”, say its founders.

Jing-A Brewery co-founders Alex Acker and Kris Li

Jing-A Brewery, founded by Alex Acker and Kris Li, is based in Beijing and is known for its use of Chinese ingredients such as red rice koji, ginger, and Sichuan peppercorn, and its interpretations of traditional beer styles such as IPA, witbier, and stout.

This week, the pair announced on their website that the brewery had received a minority investment from the Danish brewer Carlsberg “to fuel Jing-A’s next chapter”.

“With this new partnership, we continue to retain full control of Jing-A while receiving support where we most want it – state of the art brewing/lab facilities and a solid distribution network,” the statement read.

“We’ll be able to take the quality of our beers to the next level – including popular seasonal and small-batch beers from our brewpub – and make them more widely available to beer lovers in Beijing and throughout China.

“It will be the same people doing it, driven by the same passion and creativity – now with more support for quality, innovation, and distribution.”

The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but it marks Carlsberg’s growing interest in the small but increasingly dynamic Chinese craft beer market.

China is already the world’s biggest beer market. According to Euromonitor International, the country drank 25 billion litres of beer in 2015, almost twice that of the US.

Other global brewers to have already made a play for the Chinese beer market include Dutch brewer Heineken, which in August 2018 acquired a 40% stake in China Resources Enterprise, the parent company of China’s largest brewer, for HK$24.4 billion (US$3.1 billion).

The agreement saw Heineken’s current operations in China combined with those of China Resources Beer with the latter gaining the licence for the Heineken brand in China.

Elsewhere, AB InBev opened mega brewery in China’s southern Fujian province capable of producing 160,000 cans an hour in 2017.

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