MillerCoors strengthens its craft beer brand with majority stake in popular San Diego craft brewer

MillerCoors has extended its reach into the craft beer market with a majority stake in popular San Diego craft brewer Saint Archer Brewing Co.

The beer mammoth will take control of the two year-old craft brewer which has experienced a hugely successful year with sales of beer barrels expected to reach 35,000, double on last year.

The latest acquisition adds to MillerCoors' growing portfolio of craft brewers as the brand looks to take advantage of craft beer's huge popularity. Saint Archer will be part of the company's craft and import division, Tenth and Blake, which already owns companies Blue Moon Brewing Co. in Denver and Colfax, California-based Crispin Cider Co.

Scott Whitley, chief executive of Tenth and Blake said that Saint Archer was "one of the fastest-growing breweries in California" and has a number of award-winning ales which were " complementary to our current portfolio."

MillerCoors' interest is part of a growing trend in the beer industry as mainstream companies attempt to capitalise on the craft beer market which continues to outperform the overall US beer market and represents 11 per cent of total volume. Heineken recently announced that it would take a 50 per cent stake in another California craft brewer Lagunitas Brewing Co.

The popularity of craft beer has been huge in the last few years, particularly in the US where the number of craft breweries increased to 3,418, up 19.4 per cent from the year before, according to the Brewers Assn., a trade group.

Acquisitions of smaller craft brewers has often led to criticism from craft enthusiasts who see larger company's shareholders and financial focus as detrimental to the ethos of craft brewing. MillerCoors is keen to show that its brand can work with craft brewers for the benefit of both parties.

Co-founder of Saint Archer, Josh Landan, said the deal would give the company more resources to grow.

MillerCoors will keep Saint Archer's management team, and will run as a separate business unit of Tenth and Blake. The deal is expected to be completed in October. Financial details were not disclosed.

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