As the craft beer industry continues to expand, two words seem to be on everyone’s lips lately: buyout or merger.
In just five December days, three craft breweries were swallowed by Anheuser-Busch.
On the other side of the coin, other existing brewers are seeing mergers as their best option. This was recently evidenced by Southern Tier Brewing joining forces with Victory Brewing Company under a new umbrella company, known as Artisanal Brewing Ventures (ABV).
With Southern Tier being based in Lakewood, NY, and Victory hailing from Downington, PA, a search began for a new place to mutually call home. Per Southern Tier CEO John Coleman, the ideal location would need to fulfill several needs. It should “(give) us the opportunity to recruit new employees from around the country,” as well as be “an excellent location for convenient travel around our key geographies, and a terrific place to live.”
Naturally, they chose Charlotte.
In fact, they’re already here, and they’ll be bringing friends.
For now, ABV sits quietly in about 1,000 square feet of office space off Tyvola Road. Key personnel are already in place, including the CFO and Head of Sales. Soon, they’ll be filling a new Chief Marketing Officer role, along with three or four other staff positions. After that, they have grand plans for the Queen City…
If you guessed brewery, you’d be right.
Currently, Southern Tier is focused on opening a second facility in Pittsburgh, a brewpub located conveniently between Heinz Field and PNC Park. That venture will have 65,000 square feet under roof, with 10,000 square feet dedicated to a beer garden.
Expect a similar-sized footprint for their future Charlotte presence, but with a dramatically larger brewing capacity. Coleman anticipates the new brewery to sport a 50-barrel system in-house, comparable size-wise to local production leaders NoDa and OMB.
Running a production brewery that size is no easy task, and that’s where the bulk of new hires will go. A projected 30 to 50 people will staff the brewery, run the cellar, serve the taproom or market the beer.
This as-yet-untitled joint brewing venture, loosely referred to in-house as an “innovation brewery,” will supply beer for both brands and allow them to service the region with targeted offerings. Brewed beers will carry either the Southern Tier or Victory labels.
Both breweries under the ABV umbrella have a sizable regional presence, with their beers being found in North and South Carolina, plus Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Tennessee and Virginia.
Per Coleman, “a Charlotte location gives us a presence in a rapidly growing part of the country. We see a lot of our fans from NY, PA, NJ and Ohio moving to Charlotte. They are already familiar with our brands and by being located in Charlotte it allows us to get closer to our consumers, distributors and retailers.”
Eventually, the existing office and future brewing operations will live under the same roof. Several local spots are currently being scouted, but nothing’s finalized. They do anticipate opening the new facility within 18 months.
With Southern Tier and Victory merging under the Artisanal Brewing Ventures umbrella, they have created one of the 15 largest breweries in the country. The new ABV facility will bring additional brewing and marketing jobs to Charlotte, not to mention involve a significant capital investment, and further raises the Queen City’s already-high profile as a beer tourism destination.
“We’re thrilled to be in Charlotte,” says Coleman. “It’s a fantastic place to live and work and we are looking forward to being part of the growing craft community and brewing some great beers here in town.”