AB InBev isn’t just interested in US craft brewery acquisitions. Canadian craft breweries are increasingly being targeted and its recent purchase of Banded Peak Brewing in Calgary is disrupting the region’s craft beer community.
Here’s the deal…
On January 30, Labatt Breweries of Canada, a division of Anheuser Busch InBev announced that it had acquired Banded Peak Brewing in Alberta. It was the second acquisition of a Calgary craft brewery by a large corporation in nine months and the fourth Canadian craft brewery purchase by AB InBev in the last five years.
And that acquisition has generated an uproar that might put an end to a Calgary craft beer tourism website known as the Barley Belt.
Banded Peak is one of the stars of the Barley Belt, the uber-successful branding partnership launched by several craft operations around Calgary in 2017.
And as it turns out the Barley Belt brand and trademark is owned by Banded Peak (now an AB InBev property).
According to On Beer, “AB InBev was unwilling to relinquish its trademark unless guaranteed a permanent spot in the Belt partnership,” which has led to stained relationships and an existential crisis for many of the craft brewers involved.
Barley Belt’s new association with AB InBev has led to a number of craft brewers including Annex Ale Project, Cabin Brewing and Outcast Brewing to announce that they were leaving that organization.
This from On Beer…
“The main concern is that Banded Peak’s continued participation in the Barley Belt confuses consumers, obfuscates its ownership, and undermines the local, independent nature of the project. Banded Peak’s ownership of the brand name complicates the situation.”
AB InBev was unwilling to relinquish its trademark unless guaranteed a permanent spot in the Belt partnership. This position led to much soul-searching by many members, and ultimately led to the decision by some to abandon the project.”
Whether the Barley Belt beer tourism site can retain its origional integrity and survive this exodus remains to be seen.