Aug 10, 2023 - Food and Drink

Breckenridge Brewery is once again a "craft brewer"

Breckenridge Brewery is a craft brewer again. Photo courtesy of Breckenridge Brewery

Anheuser-Busch's sale of Breckenridge Brewery means the famed Colorado brand is once again a "craft brewer."

Why it matters: Craft beer is a much-protected seal within the industry, in part because it still carries weight among consumers who prioritize drinking independent, local beer.

Driving the news: The Brewers Association, based in Boulder, considers a brewery "craft" if it is a small, independent beer maker.

  • Tilray, the new owner of Breckenridge Brewery, is the 9th largest craft brewer in the nation, but remains small enough to qualify, the association's economist Bart Watson said Thursday.
  • That means Littleton-based Breckenridge Brewery is a craft brewer.

Catch up quick: The sale of Breckenridge Brewery to Anheuser-Busch in 2015 represented a significant loss for the craft beer industry and came at a time when international mega-beer makers were acquiring smaller operations to better compete.

  • The craft beer industry considers itself the antithesis to the mass-produced, less flavorful big brands, and the industry shunned those who sold out, including Breckenridge, which was the sixth-largest brewer in the state at the time.

What to watch: Tilray's acquisition of eight brands from Anheuser-Busch — which also included Shock Top, Blue Point, 10 Barrel, Redhook and Widmer Brothers — is being seen as a boost that will help sales look stronger after posting flat numbers in 2022 for the first time on record, outside the pandemic.

  • Breckenridge sold 100,000 barrels in 2022, the association's data shows

Of note: Tilray — which is best-known for its cannabis business interests — also owns SweetWater Brewing, a Georgia-based beer maker with a brewery in Fort Collins.

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