Just one day after New Belgium sent a tremor through the craft beer world by announcing it would be sold to Kirin-owned Lion Little World Beverages, the next buyout news has already hit our inbox. This time around, it’s the country’s #2 largest hard cider company, Bold Rock Hard Cider, which is being acquired by craft beer collective Artisanal Brewing Ventures.
As a company, ABV was formed back in 2016 by the merger of Victory Brewing and Southern Tier Brewing. It has since acquired New York’s Sixpoint Brewery, and stood as the 11th largest “craft brewer” in 2018, via the Brewers Association definition of the term. The addition of Bold Rock’s 80,000 barrels of cider and hard seltzer, however, will put Artisanal Brewing Ventures within spitting distance of 400,000 total barrels between its brands. It’s a big step for the collective, and a very obvious outreach into the “beyond beer” space, with the addition of cider, seltzer and also “ready to drink” canned cocktails.
The fact that Bold Rock is the #2 hard cider company in the U.S., trailing only the ubiquitous Angry Orchard Brand from Boston Beer Co., may be something of a surprise. It speaks both to the success that independent brands have had within the cider world, and the relative failure of U.S. cider brands owned by industry giants AB InBev and MillerCoors to compete against the likes of Angry Orchard, regardless of the marketing budgets thrown at them.
“The founders of Bold Rock should be incredibly proud of what they and their hard-working, dedicated team have created—the #2 cider brand in the country,” said John Coleman, CEO of Artisanal Brewing Ventures, in a press release. “With the addition of Bold Rock, ABV is strongly positioned to address the evolving needs of the craft consumer. Bold Rock’s portfolio is a perfect complement to ABV’s other partner breweries by bringing consumers a leading hard cider, a new hard seltzer and a line of canned cocktails. Adding Bold Rock to the ABV family shows a commitment to bring craft consumers great brands across segments to best meet the needs in all of their drinking occasions.”
Bold Rock’s ciders are currently available in 10 U.S. states, and the company employs around 200 people, with no apparent plans to cut staff, according to comments by founder Derek Detenber to Brewbound.