Redhook Ale Brewery has begun talks on a possible merger with fellow US craft brewer Widmer Brothers Brewing Co.

Redhook said yesterday (3 January) that it has started "preliminary discussions" with Widmer on the merger. A union would deepen the relationship between Redhook and Widmer, which run Craft Brands Alliance, a sales and marketing venture, in the western US.

The two brewers also have a brewing and licensing relationship in the eastern US, where Redhook products are sold through a distribution deal with Anheuser-Busch.

In November, Redhook pointed the finger at the Craft Brands venture for its falling sales in western US states and claimed the business had made a better job at selling beers from the Widmer stable.

Redhook said the merger talks were "expected to take several weeks". Officials at the brewer, based in Washington state, could not be reached for comment as just-drinks went to press.

Officials at Portland-based Widmer could also not be reached for comment.