Independent Craft Beer vs Big Beer - Who Owns Who?

Independent Craft Beer vs Big Beer - Who Owns Who?LAST UPDATE:  Jan 2024

I get asked one question more than just about anything else…and I’ll admit the waters have become so muddy, I thought it was a good idea to put it all in one post.

If you play any role in the independent craft beer world from brewer to drinker, you’re already keenly aware that Big Beer (Anheuser-Busch, MillerCoors, MolsonCoors, Constellation Brands, Heineken…) have made some pretty big moves to infiltrate the craft beer arena.  Whether it’s a simple distribution agreement or a complete buy out, we’ve spent the last 5-years watching Big Beer swing the monetary hammer.  We’ve also seen some of the larger “small” craft breweries buying other smaller craft breweries, and while this seems to offer some amount of insulation, it’s still a very small percentage of the available craft brewery targets.

The Brewers Association has pushed back by trying to define “craft” beer, by introducing the new Independent Craft Seal and even by launching the movement to Take Craft Back.  And while I don’t necessarily agree with all of these tactics, I DO think it’s important for us to at least know why this is bad for independent craft beer, how to spot true independent craft beer and more importantly to know….Who Owns Who?

So without further adieu, here is my list of Who Owns Who?  I will periodically update this list, and please do contribute any I may have missed or mis-categorized.  For the latest up-to-date news on these buy outs, I also maintain a label called BuyOuts that lets you see every post related to BuyOuts.

imageAnheuser-Busch (aka The High End):

imageMillerCoors / SABMiller / Molson Coors (aka Tenth & Blake):


imageNorth American Breweries:

imageConstellation Brands (aka Corona & more):



Kirin/Lion Little World Beverages:


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4 comments (click to read or post):

  1. You missed that Sapporo owns Unibroue

  2. You missed that Sapporo owns Unibroue

  3. Kirin owns a minority share in Brooklyn Brewery. And Brooklyn Brewery has minority investments in 21st Amendment & Funkwerks.
    Surprised that this wasn’t in the article.


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