Big brewers think outside the six-pack


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Despite the thriving universe of craft beers, the U.S. market for beer is shrinking, as younger drinkers have a long list of coffees, teas, energy drinks, and more exotic beverages that distract them from plain old brew. That’s one reason why total US beer sales fell 1 percent in 2017.

So, the biggest brewing companies are looking beyond beer.

Heineken’s “Draft for Home” venture is delivering kombucha, a Siberian fermented tea, and cold brew coffees as new offerings. Last June, Molson Coors bought Clearly Kombucha; it was the conglomerate’s first purchase of a non-traditional alcoholic beverage brand. Constellation Brands, which makes Corona and Modelo beers, invested $4 billion in Canopy Growth, a Canadian medical marijuana venture founded just four years ago. Constellation now owns 38 percent of the company.


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The beverage market has become a free-for-all. Companies such as Seedlip and Tost are making non-alcoholic spirits that taste like the real thing. Ceria Beverages and Rebel Coast Winery are turning out marijuana-infused drinks. In Japan, in May 2018, Coca-Cola premiered its first-ever alcoholic beverage, called Lemon-Do, a Japanese “alcopop” canned drink. Bottoms up.

As the industry’s traditional silos break down, small specialty beverage makers, as well as some majors, will be prime targets for takeovers. PepsiCoors switchel, anyone?

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