New Belgium Brewing is to handle the production, marketing and sales of the Kirin Ichiban and Kirin Light beers in the US.

Colorado-based New Belgium Brewing, which is owned by Japanese giant Kirin Holdings, will take the reins from AB InBev’s US arm Anheuser-Busch, which is seeing its contract expire by the end of the year.

Anheuser-Busch has held the production rights for the two beer brands via a partnership with Kirin since 1996.

The brewing of the Kirin beers will move to New Belgium’s breweries in Fort Collins, Colorado and in Asheville, North Carolina by the end of the year.

Production, marketing and sales are expected to start under the group’s lead in January 2025. Anheuser-Busch will remain in control of brewing and distributing the brands until that point.

Reflecting on the news, Masakazu Ashida, general manager of the overseas business department at Kirin Brewery Co., said the decision to move to New Belgium was “a logical decision as we consider the strategic direction of our business in the U.S for years to come”.

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He added: “We are grateful for all parties’ collaboration and commitment to ensuring continued success of our brands during this time of transition”.

Kirin told Just Drinks the move was made to help it “transition to a cooperative structure”.

New Belgium CEO Shain Belongie added in a statement: “I want to thank Kirin for entrusting New Belgium as stewards of Kirin Ichiban and Kirin Light across the United States. We’re excited to grow our production portfolio and we’re confident in our capacity to expand upon the success of these powerful brands.”

Just Drinks has contacted Anheuser-Busch for comment.