Anheuser-Busch InBev has offloaded a clutch of US assets to Tilray Brands, the Canada-based cannabis company that has been building its presence in beer.

Tilray, which owns beer brands such as Sweetwater and Montauk, has struck a deal to buy assets including Blue Point Brewing Company and Square Mile Cider Company.

The terms of the deal, announced yesterday (7 August), were not disclosed.

In a statement, Tilray said the deal, once completed, will make the company the “fifth-largest craft brewer” in the US, up from its current position of ninth. It cited data from the Brewers Association.

Three months ago, AB InBev, which has been battling falling beer volumes in its domestic market, signalled it was looking to focus its efforts on fewer brands.

In fact, the Budweiser brewer discontinued a brand that is among those being acquired by Tilray – HiBall Energy.

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Andy Thomas, president of AB InBev’s “high end” business unit, said Tilray had approached the world’s largest brewer earlier this year to discuss a deal.

“Tilray Brands reached out to us early this year with interest in purchasing these brands and breweries, and since then, we’ve had many positive conversations that led to today’s announcement,” Thomas said.

The transaction also includes Shock Top, Breckenridge Brewery, 10 Barrel Brewing Company, Redhook Brewery and Widmer Brothers Brewing.

Some of the assets were acquired by AB InBev in deals during the 2010s. Three of the brewers were bought in 2019 when the company acquired Craft Brew Alliance outright.

“Winning in craft remains a key pillar of our strategy to lead and develop the premium segment. We remain committed to the amazing craft brewery partners in our portfolio and focused on working with them to lead growth in the segment,” Thomas added.

In recent quarters, Tilray has expressed its desire to expand further into beer and spirits amid concerns it will not see cannabis legalisation in the US in the near future.

The company’s most recent acquisition in beer came in November last year when it snapped up New York’s Montauk Brewing.

Tilray said the addition of the AB InBev breweries would see it generate pro forma revenue from craft beer of $250m. The deal gives the company four more production facilities – two in Oregon, one in Colorado and one in New York.

Irwin Simon, Tilray’s chairman and CEO, said the transaction “solidifies our national leadership position and share in the US craft brewing market and marks a major step forward in our diversification strategy”.

He added: “In a matter of three years, Tilray has solidified its leadership position in the craft beer industry, and we fully intend to be that change agent that reinvigorates the sector. Upon federal cannabis legalisation, we expect to leverage our leadership position, wide distribution network and portfolio of beloved beverage and wellness brands to include THC-based products and maximise all commercial opportunities.”

Column: Tilray has track-record to make success of latest M&A in uncertain US craft-beer category