Artisanal Brewing Ventures to Acquire Bold Rock Hard Cider

Another day, another deal.

One day after New Belgium announced a proposed sale to Kirin-owned Lion Little World Beverages, rollup play Artisanal Brewing Ventures (ABV) revealed an agreement to expand its portfolio beyond beer with the planned acquisition of Bold Rock Hard Cider in Nellysford, Virginia.

Specific financial terms of the deal, which is expected to close by the end of 2019, were not disclosed.

The transaction comes one year after ABV, which formed via the 2016 merger of Victory Brewing and Southern Tier Brewing and with the backing of Ulysses Management, acquired New York’s Sixpoint Brewery.

ABV ranked as the 11th largest domestic craft brewery by volume last year, producing 310,759 barrels of beer, according to trade group the Brewers Association.

The acquisition of Bold Rock — the No. 2 cider brand in the U.S. behind Boston Beer Company’s Angry Orchard — marks ABV’s first deal outside of the beer space and gives the platform 80,000 barrels of cider and hard seltzer sales, as well as a recently launched ready-to-drink canned cocktail line.

“With the addition of Bold Rock, ABV is strongly positioned to address the evolving needs of the craft consumer,” John Coleman, CEO of ABV, said in a press release. “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.”

For Bold Rock, the company will gain access to ABV members’ production facilities, sales teams, distribution network, and consumer data and insights. Bold Rock co-founders John Washburn and Brian Shanks will remain with ABV in leadership roles.

“[B]y joining ABV, a very talented, passionate, and high performing beverage company, we can extend our brand to new consumers up and down the East Coast, creating more special memories and unique experiences,” Washburn said in the release.

“Many consumers, distributors and accounts have urged us to expand to their areas,” Shanks added. “Now, we have the resources and capabilities to do just that while also creating more growth opportunities for our team. We look forward to taking Bold Rock and ABV to new heights together.”

Nevertheless, the future roles of Washburn and Shanks have yet to be determined, ABV chief marketing officer Derek Detenber told Brewbound via email.

“After the deal closes in December, our teams will get to work on organization structure and people planning and that will help us define the best and most valuable roles for John and Brian,” he said. “But it will be more of the same versus different.”

According to Detenber, Bold Rock employs about 200 workers, and there are no plans to cut staff.

“This opportunity is more about fueling Bold Rock growth, not trying to take a bunch of synergies out of it,” he said.

Bold Rock operates its cidery in Nellysford, where the company also maintains a “Barrel Barn” taproom. The company also operates a cidery and tasting room in Mills River, North Carolina, as well as seasonal taprooms in Charlottesville and Crozet Virginia. Those outposts join ABV’s nine open or announced taprooms. Those locations combined give ABV access to more than 2 million customers annually.

Bold Rock’s offerings are distributed in 10 states between Eastern Pennsylvania and Georgia. Detenber told Brewbound that there is some distribution overlap between Bold Rock and ABV brands in parts of key states such as Virginia and North Carolina.

“We will look to existing wholesale partners as we extend the brand into new territories,” he added.

The deal with Bold Rock is the latest move by ABV, which announced plans over the summer to build a 20,000 sq. ft. brewery and taproom for Sixpoint in the Gowanus neighborhood of Brooklyn, with a target opening date of May 2020, and revealed plans last month for a 14,000 sq. ft. Victory Brewing innovation brewery and taproom in Philadelphia.

Cowen served as the financial advisor to Bold Rock on the deal, while Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP acted as legal. Robinson Bradshaw & Hinson, P.A. served as legal counsel to ABV.

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