In a strangely unsurprising turn of events, given the current penchant of big breweries for swallowing up smaller competitors, another London craft-brewery has become the latest casualty in an increasingly protracted war on independent beer. What is surprising however, is that the brewery in question this time, is Fourpure.
Here at BWIHD Towers, Fourpure is a favourite brewer of ours, having appeared as recently as this weeks mini-review roundup (twice) and in two full reviews (both, I should add, positive experiences). So to hear the news that they've followed Beavertown (among others) into the world of corporate ownership is ...strange. Mainly because they seemed to be doing really well and making decent amounts of cash to allow them to expand as they wished.
According to reports online, Australian brewing giant Lion have bought 100% of Fourpure stock and are now the sole owner of the brewery. Fourpure's founders, brothers Dan and Tom Lowe, will remain in charge of the company, albeit under the heel of their corporate overlords.
"Brothers Dan and Tom Lowe, will remain in charge of the company, albeit under the heel of their corporate overlords."
Alright, alright - it sounds like I'm painting this in a negative light here, but looking at the details, this doesn't look to be the worst deal in the world as far as these sort of things go. It isn't in the same league as the recent Beavertown fiasco, for one. Lion - who are not run by the anti-christ and, as far as I can tell, don't have any skeletons lurking in their closets - are champions of the craft-beer industry down-under and the Fourpure deal appears to be their gateway to trading here in the UK. It's a bit like when all those Neighbours/Home and Away stars ended up over here after their stardom faded in Oz. Except the opposite. Or completely different.
Lion, probably most famous in these parts as the producer of Castlemaine XXXX ("I can see the pub from here!"), are responsible for a variety of craft-beers in Australia under the moniker of "Little World Beverages" and at least appear to have some relevant experience of nurturing craft brewers. The move is seen as a way not only for Fourpure to move into new markets - Australia and New Zealand, naturally, as well as Europe and Asia - but could also be seen as a way to bring more Aussie beers to the UK market. It is also expected that as a direct result of the acquisition and the subsequent expansion of business that there will be a requirement for an additional 30 members of staff over the next two years.
"It's a bit like when all those Neighbours/Home and Away stars ended up over here after their stardom faded in Oz. Except the opposite. Or completely different."
So far, the reaction to the takeover has been strangely positive. This is probably helped by the fact that Fourpure have never hidden their ambitions to grow the business and expand into new territories, even if that meant courting "big beer" in the process.
I imagine however, that there will still be some craft beer wanks that will see the move as a bad thing, but - as I said in my Beavertown article - if the beer stays the same, then I personally don't see an issue with the move. The rate at which craft breweries are being snapped up at these days is slightly alarming though, so it will be interesting to see in the future if the indies can still compete against the "big beer" controlled breweries, or if someday all beer labelled "craft" will actually be produced in massive vats and bottled by robots in a corporate branded warehouse somewhere. Probably Mars or Venus or something.