Beer Giant Heineken Buys British Independent Beavertown

In 2011, Logan Plant, son of legendary Led Zeppelin lead singer Robert Plant, began brewing beer in his kitchen using a 20-liter rice pan. Fast forward 11 years and his company, Beavertown, has been snapped up by Dutch beer giant Heineken. The full takeover has come after Heineken first purchased a 49% stake in the company back in 2018 for £40 million.

At the time, Plant had been keen to assure his staff and customers that he was going to ‘retain full control of our destiny’, but it would appear that this is no longer the case as he has now sold the remainder of the company to Heineken for an undisclosed sum. However, rumors abound that it was upwards of £200 million.

The acquisition of Beavertown by Heineken means the popular craft beer will be produced alongside other brands including Amstel, Tiger Beer, and Birra Moretti.

Humble Beginnings

Plant began brewing his own beer in the basement of a London restaurant before expanding across the city and then nationally across the UK. The independent brewery created some hugely popular beers includingGamma Ray, Black Betty, and Neck Oil. As it grew in popularity, the UK’s largest supermarket Tesco began to stock it, and when the new Tottenham Hotspur soccer stadium opened, a deal was made for Beavertown to open a beer bar there.

As the popularity of the brand grew, so too did interest from the big players in the market, as Heineken bought the 49% stake in 2018. At the time, Plant said, “Beavertown had to remain its own business and in control of its own destiny, with me remaining in absolute charge and control of the company direction and vision”. He went on to add, “we would only align ourselves with a minority investor who were clear they would not be involved with the management of the brewery”.

Just four years later, Plant has admitted that the sale of the remainder of the company was a natural next step. With the cost-of-living crisis biting hard across the globe and many small independent companies struggling to survive, it is hardly surprising that the founder and CEO has decided to take a step away from the business and continue in an advisory role only.

Staying Independent

Texas-based Cedar Stone Industry, makers of stainless steel brewing equipment, say they have heard of many success stories like this here in the U.S., such as Three Floyds Brewing Co., an independent brewery that was founded in 1995 in a garage and created Dark Lord Imperial Stout, once given the title of the best beer in America.

According to Jack Hobday who is a co-founder of Anspach & Hobday, another independent craft-brewery based in London, the beer scene in America is different, with craft brewers holding a larger share of the market. He believes that ‘brewing has a unique place in people’s hearts, because it’s a very local and community driven sector’. He went on to say, “Quite a few American breweries are very successful without needing to sell – it is quite possible”.

With the beer giants collecting a variety of independent brands to add to their portfolios, staying independent will become harder for many of the smaller breweries, especially as the energy crisis continues to take a hold. The possibility of investment by massive companies can be hard to ignore in financially challenging times. Staying independent can be difficult, but as that is an important issue for many craft beer drinkers, Hobday has raised necessary business cash by selling shares in the business to his customers or crowdfunding.