Devils Backbone acquisition by ABI gets antitrust approval

WASHINGTON — The Justice Department’s Antitrust division says it has closed its investigation into Anheuser-Busch InBev’s planned acquisition of Virginia-based craft brewer Devils Backbone.

It cites recent concessions ABI and SABMiller made to win approval of their merger that includes distribution relief that will prevent either company from restricting beer distributors from selling rival beers. ABI also agreed to sell SABMiller’s entire U.S. business, including its stake in MillerCoors, as part of the larger acquisition.

Devils Backbone, the eight-year-old brewer in Lexington, Virginia, best known for its Vienna Lager, will become part of Anheuser-Busch’s craft beer division, The High End. It will continue to operate independently.

Devils Backbone’s Outpost Brewery & Taproom in Lexington is the primary production brewery. Its Basecamp Brewpub & Meadows, in Roseland, includes 100 acres surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Its two locations hosted more than 500,000 guests in 2015.

In addition to Vienna Lager, Devils Backbone’s other beers include Eight Point IPA and Schwartz Bier.

It will join other beers like Shock Top, Goose Island and Blue Point in Anheuser-Busch’s The High End group.

Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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