Ouch, this doesn’t sound good, sad to say. The Motley Fool is reporting that the Craft Brewers Alliance is out of cash. In a post entitled Who’s Broke Now?, they indicate that the combined corporation that includes Widmer, RedHook, Kona and Goose Island “had only $13,000 in cash in its last reported numbers” and on top of that is “$19 million in debt.” I hope there’s more too it than that, because those are not good numbers. Anheuser-Busch InBev still owns 35% of CBA, but it’s unclear if they’d bail them out or even if that would be desirable.
More On The Possibility Of An ABI / SABMiller Merger
You’ll no doubt recall the Interwebs were lit up last week with the idea of an Anheuser-Busch InBev merger with SABMiller, which was started by Credit Suisse analysts engaging in speculation. While there were some reports to the contrary, the two mega-beer companies were not in talks.
Yesterday, apparently Credit Suisse followed-up their report by saying, after fueling such a flurry of speculation, that “nobody in our diverse pool of responders indicated that we are off the mark.” They further suggest that ABI “could come knocking” on SABMiller’s door before the end of this year.
As usual, there’s more to it, such as stakes in Grupo Modelo are part of the equation. You can read more about those at Beer Business Daily, which again I heartily recommend that everyone get a subscription to Harry’s newsletter.
Rumors Of An Anheuser-Busch InBev & SABMiller Merger?
Wow. This rumor is just mind-boggling. It makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. But could it be true? According to Harry Schuhmacher at Beer Business Daily, it’s not only being discussed but is considered “likely and lucrative.” Harry’s quoting analysts at Credit Suisse who believe “‘SABMiller selling to ABI would provide SAB management and shareholders an obvious and desirable exit strategy for all involved. The idea of a merger we believe could be sold to both sets of shareholders’ even though ‘this would be a large deal with many moving parts.'” Apparently there’s not much overlap between the two behemoths globally, but in the U.S. it would be more of an issue, with the two companies combining for around 80% of the domestic beer market. That, I imagine, would raise big anti-trust concerns and would loom large in the closing of the deal, which would also most likely lead to massive distributor consolidation. The price being thrown around is somewhere in the $9-10 billion range.
Obviously, there’s a lot more details to be worked out, and many of them are already addressed in the Beer Business Daily piece, which looks at pros and cons for both sides, and likely resolutions of certain issues both companies face. It’s not as far-fetched as you might think on first blush. To read the rest of it, I highly recommend a subscription to Harry’s newsletter.
When Anheuser-Busch and InBev merged, I remember someone joking that eventually there would be just one international beer company and it would just be called “Beer.” I chuckled at the time, but maybe they were on to something. Stay tuned, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.
Brickskeller To Close
Rumors have been flying around for months, and now it looks like it’s just about official. The world-famous Brickskeller pub in Washington, D.C. on 22nd Street NW will be closing shortly.
Opened by Diane Alexander’s family in 1957, and operated for many years by her and her husband Dave Alexander, the building will apparently be renovated and turned into a boutique hotel. The Alexander’s will retain the rights to the name and most likely moved the Brick to another location. As far as I know, their other location, RFD, is unaffected by the deal and may at one point even transition into the new Brickskeller.
Bob Pease, COO of the Brewers Association (left), with Dave Alexander at a Brickskeller event this July.
The Washington City Paper blog Young & Hungry floated the rumor at least as far back as early October. Yesterday, the DC Beer blog tweeted that a “credible source [told them] that The Brickskeller will shut it’s doors for good on 12.18.” Young & Hungry picked it up from there and so has TBD Neighborhoods. And All About Beer publisher Daniel Bradford posted the news of a pending Brickskeller sale on his Facebook page. Between that, and my own unnamed sources, it looks like this is going to happen. I haven’t had a chance to talk to Dave Alexander yet, but I suspect that’s the next call. It will be sad to see the Brick gone. The last time I was there was July and it was great seeing the place packed for an event with several of the brewers attending SAVOR.
Discovery Channel To Explain “How Beer Saved The World”
It seems that the Discovery Channel is also currently shooting a beer documentary entitled “How Beer Saved the World.” Sweetwater Brewing in Georgia tweeted a photo of the crew of the documentary at the brewery over the weekend.
“The Discovery channel’s, “How Beer Saved the World” Amanda from Emory with our Brewmaster Mark Medlin and the sound dude.”
There’s not much additional information out there, though on Sunday the Georgia Tech Glee Club performed the Anacreontic Song at the Brick Store Pub in Decatur, also for the documentary. If you’re not familiar with the song, it’s also known as “To Anacreon in Heaven” and is an old British drinking song. According to AstroCocktail, “Anacreon was an ancient Greek poet (563-478 BC) whose many poems about the pleasures of wine and its results earned him the reputation as the bard of the grape.”
Even if you don’t know the lyrics, you probably know the tune, as it was used as the melody for our National Anthem. “Francis Scott Key wrote ‘Defence of Fort McHenry’ while detained on a British ship during the night of September 13, 1814, as the British forces bombarded the American fort. His brother-in-law, on hearing the poem Key had written, realized it fit the tune of ‘The Anacreontic Song.'” It was later retitled The Star-Spangled Banner. You can hear a version of it here.
“Anacreon” by Jean Leon Gerome, 1848
Admittedly, not much to go on, but it would appear there is definitely another beer documentary in the works for the Discovery channel, and that’s in addition to the new series, Brew Masters, debuting next month and starring Sam Calagione from Dogfish Head.
MillerCoors: Is A Global Merger Possible?
Several sources are pointing out a Reuters interview last week with Peter Swinburn, head of MolsonCoors. In that interview, Swinburn suggests that while he considers his company to be a “buyer,” he doesn’t discount the notion that MolsonCoors could be a takeover target. He further remarked that “SABMiller, Molson’s partner in the MillerCoors joint venture, would be a natural fit as a buyer.” While going on to say he doesn’t believe that will happen, this is, after all, how these types of things begin. A rumor that’s denied and discounted by all involved parties becoming a reality is nothing new, so you never know. Currently SABMiller is the 2nd largest global beer company and MolsonCoors in sixth. Though a merger wouldn’t eclipse A-B InBev at the top spot, it would move them closer together. Only time will tell.