Anheuser-Busch Continues to Build Craft Beer Portfolio

ST. LOUIS — Anheuser-Busch (A-B) expanded its presence in the craft beer segment with the acquisition of its eighth craft brewery, Devils Backbone Brewing Co. of Virginia.

Devils Backbone will join the diverse portfolio of craft breweries within The High End, the company's business unit comprising craft and import brands, according to St. Louis-based A-B.

"I am extremely pleased to announce the partnership of Devils Backbone Brewing Co. with Anheuser-Busch. While we are joining a creative group of craft breweries in the division, Devils Backbone will retain a high level of autonomy and continue its own authentic DNA within The High End framework," said Steve Crandall, co-founder and CEO of Devils Backbone Brewing Co. "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."

Devils Backbone opened in the Virginia Heartland in 2008 after founders Steve and Heidi Crandell were inspired by their first taste of Germanic-style beer during a ski trip to northern Italy in 1991. Following the success of their first brewpub Basecamp, they broke ground on the Outpost facility in Lexington, Va., where the outpost produced nearly 45,000 barrels in its first three years.

Steve Crandell credits much of the company's early success to the excellent network of distributors within his system, which is weighted heavily toward A-B, Devils Backbone said.

"I congratulate Steve and Heidi Crandall and the entire Devils Backbone team as they partner with Anheuser-Busch," said Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe. "Through the strength of Anheuser-Busch's network of distributors, Devils Backbone's award-winning craft beer will soon be available throughout the country and beyond. I want to thank Devils Backbone for their immense contribution to Virginia's world-class craft beer industry, and I look forward to the additional exposure for Virginia as a leading state for craft beer lovers."

Devils Backbone's Outpost Brewery & Taproom in Lexington serves as the primary production brewery, while the Basecamp Brewpub & Meadows in Roseland, Va. serves as a visitor destination. In 2015 the two locations hosted more than 500,000 guests.

"Devils Backbone has captivated beer drinkers in Virginia since opening its doors eight years ago," said Felipe Szpigel, president of The High End. "From the beginning, they have 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."

Best known for its flagship Vienna Lager — which accounted for nearly 60 percent of Devils Backbone volume in 2015 — the brand's portfolio also includes Eight Point IPA and Schwartz Bier.

Devils Backbone has won four national titles: 2014 Great American Beer Festival Mid-Size Brewery & Brew Team, 2013 Small Brewing Company & Small Brewing Company Brew Team, 2012 Small Brewpub & Small Brewpub Brewer, 2010 World Beer Cup Champion Brewery, and the Virginia Craft Brewers Fest Best of Show medals in 2015, 2014, 2013 and 2012.

First Beverage Group acted as financial advisor to Devils Backbone. A-B's partnership with Devils Backbone is expected to close in the second quarter, subject to customary closing conditions. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed. 

Other beers in the The High End unit include Stella Artois, Shock Top, Goose Island, Blue Point, 10 Barrel, Elysian, Golden Road, Virtue Cider, Four Peaks and Breckenridge Brewery.

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