Breweries weren’t the only things churning this week in the craft beer world, as rumours abound that Dutch brewing giant Heineken may be buying a large stake in successful London based craft brewery, Beavertown.
Founded in 2011 by Logan Plant, the son of legendary Led Zeppelin singer Robert Plant, Beavertown’s popular beers include:
- Gamma Ray
- Bloody ‘Ell (Blood Orange Pale Ale)
- Neck Oil
Heineken is already associated with the area, having bought up an undisclosed minority stake in London’s Brixton Brewery just last year. The 100 year old Dutch firm also owns approximately 19000 pubs in the UK, having completed its buyout of Punch Taverns in 2017.
So, it seems that UK craft beer companies are becoming increasingly attractive investments for the big players in the drinks industry, with this possible sale being the next in a lengthening list of independent London breweries being bought up by international conglomerates. Meantime Brewing, makers of London Pale Ale, were bought up by Japanese giant Asahi in 2016. Asahi also owns Peroni, Lech and various other lager brands in the UK.
That year also saw Camden Town Brewery sold off to AB-Inbev, the Belgian multinational conglomerate and world’s largest brewer. On top of that Danish lager giant Carlsberg acquired London Fields Brewery in 2017, in a deal reportedly worth £4.5 million.
The speculation here, though, is that Heineken will at most be buying up 49% of Beavertown – thus allowing it to continue as a quasi-independent craft brewing operation. The Tottenham Hale based brewery has been going from strength to strength in the past few years, reporting a net worth of over £2 million in 2017.
Beavertown also recently moved production of their signature beers, Neck Oil (a session IPA) and Gamma Ray (a gorgeous American Pale Ale), to the Brouwerij de Brabandere in Belgium – so the prospect of foreign involvement in their beer production is clearly not something that overly bothers them.
However, this arrangement is only temporary – as this Heineken rumour also comes off the back of Beavertown announcing its plans for a Beavertown brewery experience in London. Looking set to open up in 2019, Beavertown’s new brewery is aiming to cement its place as a serious brewer – with the capacity to supply ‘great beer to every street corner’ in the UK.
Even if they are attracting international investment, it’s nice to see craft breweries sticking to the communities that made them. Beavertown’s plans to return their brewing operations to the UK as soon as they are able to meet demand are laudable. And demand has been high – they only recently announced a massive partnership with supermarket chain Waitrose, in a deal bringing Gamma Ray and Neck Oil to shelves at over 270 stores. That’s a lot of cans for an independent brewery to pump out! But with these new rumours of Heineken’s investment on the cards – Logan Plant and Beavertown’s ambitious plans might seem a little more realistic.