Molson Coors buys Detroit brewery Atwater

Molson Coors Beverage Company’s craft drinks arm, Tenth and Blake, has agreed to buy Detroit’s largest brewer, Atwater, for an undisclosed sum.

Founded in 1997, Atwater Block Brewery, which also produces hard seltzers and “craft” spirits, is known for its german-style lagers, and also operates three taphouse and biergarden locations in Detroit, Grosse Pointe Park and Grand Rapids.

Investor Mark Rieth purchased the brewery outright in 2005, which helped it to expand in the state.

Mark Rieth, Atwater Brewery owner, said he needs “both capital and brewing expertise” to continue to grow the business.

“Tenth and Blake brings both, which makes them the ideal strategic partner to help us continue to live our mantra ‘Born in Detroit. Raised Everywhere’.”

Molson Coors’ “craft” portfolio currently includes Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing, Saint Archer Brewing and Revolver Brewing.

The acquisition comes as large brewers such as Molson Coors and AB InBev are being forced to diversify their own brands as mainstream lager sales fall in the US. Mainstream beer consumption slipped 2.3% in 2019 for a fourth consecutive year, according to IWSR data. Meanwhile, the same figures show that “craft” beer consumption has increased by 1.3%.

Paul Verdu, vice president of Tenth and Blake, said Atwater was appealing to Molson Coors as it “has been a staple and a leader in the Michigan craft community for more than two decades.”

“Our priority is to make sure their beer is enjoyed by consumers throughout their core markets and eventually across the Great Lakes region.”

The acquisition, Molson Coors said, forms part of its revitalisation plan, which was launched in October 2019 to “generate savings that are being reinvested across its entire portfolio.”

It is understood that as many as 970 jobs at Molson Coors could be cut from the business as part of its major restructure.

Molson Coors announced last year it would change its name to Molson Coors Beverage Company to “expand beyond beer and into other growth adjacencies”, after a third-quarter loss of US$402 million. 

It also planned to close its Denver office, and move its headquarters to Chicago. The company has roughly 17,750 employees worldwide, 7,300 of whom are working in the US.

In July, Molson Coors acquired UK brewery Hopstuff after the London-based brewer fell into administration. The company also launched a sparkling water flavoured with hops, called Wellraiser, into the UK market in August. 

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