Canadian Manufacturing

Labatt scoops up another small brewer: Mill Street buys Toronto’s Brickworks Ciderhouse

Craft association promptly expels cider maker, but says sale shows industry is "on to something"



TORONTO—Labatt Breweries seems to have the answer to the craft brewing revolution.

On the heels of its October acquisition of Mill Street Brewery and its purchase of the rights to Okanagan Cider and Mike’s Hard Lemonade a month later, Labatt has announced it is buying Toronto’s Brickworks Ciderhouse through recently-acquired Mill Street.

No details of the deal have been released, but it’s safe to say the purchase price is significantly less than the whopping US$110 billion Labatt’s parent company, Anheuser-Busch InBev, hopes to pay for rival SABMiller.

Founded just two years ago by Chris Noll and Adam Gerrits, Brickworks has become popular among Toronto cider drinkers and craft enthusiasts. The small-batch cider maker confirmed the deal via Twitter earlier this week.

Following the Mill Street sale earlier this year, Ontario’s craft brewing association congratulated the company on their success, but promptly showed them the door, saying it no longer qualifies for membership because of its brewing behemoth of a parent. Similarly, the Ontario Craft Cider Association has struck Brickworks from its list of members, saying members of the association are “proud to be independently owned” and “unfortunately Brickworks Ciderhouse no longer qualifies.”

Nevertheless, OCCA congratulated Brickworks, noting that the biggest brewer in the world scooping up one of its members “shows we are on to something here.”

“We hope the public continues to support local craft and that the Ontario government will start to recognize how quickly the craft cider market is evolving and works on a strategic program to support our industry and keep it in Ontario,” the OCCA’s chair, Thomas Wilson, said.

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