Thursday 3 December 2015

In the Meantime ... divorce

What's a poor, spurned craft brewery to do? London craft brewery Meantime was taken over by SABMiller in May this year. Like most marriages, SABMiller promised to love and honour its new craft bride, assuring its customers that Meantime wouldn't be forced to change and would still be allowed to get on with doing what it did best: loyal customers need not fear.

But, heartbreakingly, SABMiller has found a new love in AB InBev, and not only is the honeymoon period with Meantime over, but divorce papers have already been served. AB InBev is looking to sell Meantime, as well as brands such as Grolsch and Peroni. They promise to look after these brands until the decree absolute comes through, but the question of maintenance afterwards must be a worry, especially for the staff at Meantime brewery. Unlike when they sold out to SABMiller, they won't have any say over who owns them in future, which must be unsettling to say the least.

Selling out to a big beer corporation must be a temptation for the owners of a highly successful small brewery, but the problem is that you are instantly converted from a company to a brand, and brands are no more than commodities to bought and sold like any other.

You'd think the example of Sharp's, taken over by Molson Coors who subsequently moved all the brewing of bottled Doom Bar hundreds of miles north, would have rung a few warning bells, but obviously not.

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