December 2, 2023

Mike Colombo and Kevin S. Held

ST. LOUIS – It’s big news involving a company you know and another you might be hearing about for the first time. Tilray Brands, the largest cannabis company in the world, is boosting its footprint in the alcohol market by buying eight beer and beverage brands from Anheuser-Busch InBev.

“From the Tilray side, they’ve been pretty active in the craft space over the last handful of years,” Dave Williams, vice president of analytics and insights at Bump Williams Consulting, said.

“I think this is just another large piece of the puzzle as they continue to build out their craft portfolio, but also establish, plant their flag as a national player in the craft game as opposed to a super-regional or more local offerings.”

Most notable in the acquisition is Shock Top, the lone brand with St. Louis ties. Andy Thomas, president of the High End at Anheuser-Busch, released a statement that reads, in part:

“Tilray Brands reached out to us early this year with interest in purchasing these brands and breweries, and since then, we’ve had many positive conversations that led to today’s announcement. The talented people behind these brands and breweries, along with our significant investments in them over the years, have positioned them for a bright future with Tilray Brands. We remain committed to the amazing craft brewery partners in our portfolio and focused on working with them to lead growth in the segment.”

“Maybe they really did that math and assessment of here’s what we really want to focus on in rank order, priority order,” Williams said. “Here’s what we think we can do with these and here’s where we may be able to get away with passing these on to someone else who might have a different level of interest or focus on it.”

Is this move by AB InBev an effort to recoup some cash after its recent Bud Light controversy dealt a blow to business? Probably not, according to Williams.

“It seems like this has less to do with what’s going on right now and more to do with an evolving strategy that’s been a longer-term plan,” he said.

It’s unclear what, if any, impact the sale will have on the St. Louis workforce.

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