Independent London brewery, Beavertown, announced last week that beer giant Heineken will obtain a minor stake in the company. Is this another craft beer producer selling out?
The £40m investment from the Dutch company will reportedly allow Beavertown to build a new facility named ‘Beaverworld’ in London.
This could increase its brewing capacity tenfold and create up to 150 UK jobs. According to Beavertown, the new facility represents “the pinnacle of brewing and visitor experience in the UK, maybe even the world.”
Founder of Beavertown Brewery, Logan Plant, said in a statement on the brewery’s website: “It’s a minority deal. This whole process has been about me staying in full control of our journey with our team continuing to man the charge and take us forward in to the future together like never before.
“Beavertown will be the same as we always were, and we will continue to forge our own path together as ‘Team Beaver’.”
According to the brewery, the popular beer will not change, “There will be no recipe changes or external pressures on our brewing and business decisions.”
The move comes after a string of other independent craft breweries have recently sold stakes to global companies to meet craft beer demand.
In May 2015, it was announced that Meantime Brewing – founded in Greenwich, London – was being aquired by SABMiller, the world’s second-largest brewer. Following this, in April 2016 it was then sold to Asahi Group Holdings of Japan.
Similarly to Beavertown, Brixton Brewery sold a minority stake to Heineken in November last year and BrewDog a 22% stake to San Francisco-based TSG Consumer Partners.
This increased investment from international companies has provoked some smaller independent pubs and shops to call out the partnerships.
London shop and tasting room, Hob Burns & Black stated they were “gutted” by the Heineken investment.
In a blog post, they wrote: “Today we made one of the most significant decisions in our retail careers in deciding to stop selling Beavertown, a brewery that contributes an enormous share of our revenue, after hearing the news of its sale to Heineken.
“Hop Burns & Black is built on the ethos of supporting the independent beer scene – it’s at the very core of our reason for being.”
Another beer shop, Indie Beers, in North London has discounted all Beavertown beers in reaction to the news.
There has been a surge in the number of craft breweries popping up in the UK, with 520 opening in 2016 and 336 in 2015.
Traditional craft beer is created in small breweries and produced in a non-automated way. This, perhaps, is why scaling-up craft breweries is not favoured by smaller independent pubs and shops.
However, Logan said: “This is about taking our brewery, beers and people on a great journey, to push the boundaries of what we can achieve together and hopefully expand the beer market, getting more people drinking great beer.”
He concluded: “This brewing industry is in an amazing place throughout the whole planet, people want to drink great beer and I want us to keep pushing the boundaries of the beer and where it is served and drunk.”