Devils Backbone Brewing partners with Anheuser-Busch

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Anheuser-Busch announced on Tuesday an agreement to acquire Devils Backbone Brewing Company.

Devils Backbone, the fastest-growing craft brewery in Virginia, is the latest partner to join the portfolio of craft breweries within The High End, Anheuser-Busch’s business unit comprising unique and import brands.

“I am extremely pleased to announce the partnership of Devils Backbone Brewing Company 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 Company.

However, workers with smaller local breweries are watching the latest news with a great deal of caution.

“It’s something we all keep an eye on,” Chris Rommel, the Brewery Production Manager of Ardent Craft Ales in Richmond told 8News Reporter Jonathan Costen. “Certain guys that own larger breweries, it’s interesting to them, they want to sell out. Smaller guys like Ardent, like us, we just keep our eye on it and track it because it’s something in the future that could come up for us.”

The Ardent manager added that the smaller breweries look out for one another while they compete with the larger companies; Rommel likened it to David versus Goliath.

“We’re happy for those  guys who are making the move and are selling out, but for us the same as they’re protecting their business we’re protecting ours,” Rommel added. “It does create more competition for us as more brewers line up for larger conglomerates like Bud, Miller and Coors, so for us it’s a competition for shelf space. It’s a competition for customers.”

In 2008, founders Steve and Heidi Crandall opened the doors to Devils Backbone Brewing Company after being inspired by a ski trip to northern Italy in 1991, where they first tasted Germanic-style beer.

After having success with the first brewpub, Basecamp, the decision was made to break ground on the Outpost facility in Lexington, Va. Outpost was originally projected to produce 10,000 barrels of beer in its first 10 years. However, within the first three years, Outpost produced almost 45,000 barrels.

Steve Crandall credits much of this early success to the excellent network of distributors within his system, which is weighted heavily towards Anheuser-Busch, the company said in a press release.

“I congratulate Steve and Heidi Crandall and the entire Devils Backbone team as they partner with Anheuser-Busch,” said Virginia Governor 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.”

Today, the Outpost Brewery & Taproom in Lexington serves as the primary production brewery while the Basecamp Brewpub & Meadows in Roseland, 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, The High End.

The portfolio includes the flagship Vienna Lager along with other award-winning favorites like the Eight Point IPA and Schwartz Bier.

Devils Backbone to win 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 Brewing Company. Anheuser-Busch’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.

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