Anheuser-Busch has reached an agreement to acquire Devils Backbone Brewing Company, a craft brewery in the state of Virginia. Devils Backbone will be the latest partner to join the diverse portfolio of craft breweries within The High End, the company's business unit comprising unique craft 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," says Steve Crandall, co-founder and CEO of Devils Backbone Brewing Company. "The existing management team plans to stay on board for many years, while continuing to innovate and bring locally crafted Virginia beer to the nation."
In 2008, founders Steve and Heidi Crandall opened the doors to Devils Backbone Brewing Company in the Virginia Heartland, after being inspired by a ski trip to northern Italy in 1991 where they had their first taste of Germanic style beer. After success with the first brewpub, Basecamp, the decision was made to break ground on the Outpost facility, in Lexington, Va. Originally projected to produce 10,000 barrels of beer in its first 10 years, the Outpost produced almost 45,000 barrels in its first three. Steve credits much of this early success to the network of distributors within his system, which is weighted heavily towards Anheuser-Busch.
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. Devils Backbone takes full advantage of the scenic 100-acre Basecamp property surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains, offering a variety of opportunities for guests to enjoy the outdoors. 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," says Felipe Szpigel, president of The High End. "From the beginning, they have shown creativity and talent with the great beers they brew, and they've been able to use the authentic offerings at Basecamp Brewpub & Meadows to cultivate a fun, outdoor lifestyle that resonates with everyone. Pair these qualities with dynamic leadership and a dream to do something bigger, and you have the recipe for an even more promising future."
While best known for its flagship Vienna Lager, which accounted for nearly 60 percent of Devils Backbone volume in 2015, the portfolio also includes other award-winning year-round favorites like Eight Point IPA and Schwartz Bier. Developing beers with personality and individual integrity of flavor has helped enable 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.