just On Call - SABMiller, Meantime Brewing Co say goodbye to 'craft'

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The term ‘craft beer’ will disappear, according to Meantime Brewery Co’s CEO, Nick Miller, and SABMiller’s MD of Europe, Sue Clark.

Craft work: SABMiller buys Meantime

Craft work: SABMiller buys Meantime

Speaking to journalists following SABMiller’s announcement this morning that it has acquired London brewery Meantime, both parties agreed that the term ‘craft’ will cease to be of relevance in the coming years. "It’s about style and authenticity more than it is about the craft label," said Clark today. "From our perspective, its about joining up with a partner that has a range of great beer styles."

Miller added: "The term will disappear over time and choice, variation and genres of beer will be enjoyed. Do you ever see craft coffee?"

But, Miller insisted the deal would not spell the immediate end to the term ‘craft’ at the Meantime brewery: "All beer is crafted … Why would Meantime not be a craft beer just because it has got a different set of shareholders?"

Both parties used US examples to illustrate the point, citing brands such as Sierra Nevada and Sam Adams brewer The Boston Beer Co as examples of big-volume craft beers.

Miller, who remains at the helm of Meantime, said the buyout would give the brewery greater reach across Europe: "Growth to date is higher in 2015 than it was in 2014, already," he said. "The SABMiller tie-up will help reach further into Europe in the short to medium term."

From SAB’s perspective, the deal gives them access to craft expertise and a soon-to-open pilot brewery, which will become a centre for SABMiller’s European innovation and new product development.

Clark said Meantime had been SABMiller's only target, and the company "hasn’t approached others in the UK".

Although the financial details of the transaction were not disclosed, Clark said the deal "in the context of SAB is small".

For an exclusive interview with Meantime's CEO, Nick Miller, click here.

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