Brewery Founders to Buy Their Company Back from Anheuser-Busch

The move comes amid cutbacks in the brewing giant’s craft segment.

As the U.S.’s craft beer boom accelerated early in the last decade, cousins Nathan Kelischek and Chris Zieber decided to jump onboard, forming their own brewery in their native western North Carolina in 2011.

Appalachian Mountain Brewery, its founders said, became the first continuously operating brewery in the college town of Boone when its taproom opened in 2013, producing award-winning beers and ciders. By the following year, its owners made the decision to partner with Craft Brew Alliance, a collection of smaller brewers long linked to industry giant Anheuser-Busch.

Anheuser eventually acquired CBA outright in 2021, adding Appalachian to its stable of companies in the process — part of the brewing giant’s strategy of incorporating craft brewers into its operations as that segment steadily increased its share of an otherwise sluggish beer market.

AMB’s original founders continued to lead the company as its ties to Anheuser-Busch solidified, a period that included, among other initiatives, a regional release of an alcoholic sweet iced tea with the Bojangles chain of fried chicken restaurants.

All the while, however, the nation’s spirits landscape was in the midst of another seismic shift — toward hard seltzers and, later, to canned cocktails and other “beyond beer” options. Anheuser-Busch, a report in VinePair earlier this year suggested, sought to pivot from craft beer to beer alternatives — leading to cutbacks at many of its craft holdings.

Although Appalachian wasn’t on that list of affected brewers, Anheuser-Busch was apparently ready to cut ties with it outright: AMB announced this week that Kelischek and Zieber had reached an agreement to buy their company back from the global brewing giant.

The brewery’s original — and new — owners said they would immediately turn their focus to growing its operations in North Carolina, including the original location in Boone and a new taproom outside Asheville. Its beers and ciders, meanwhile, would continue to be available through the same wholesalers and retailers across the Carolinas.

The cousins said they are grateful for their time with Anheuser-Busch and for the “support, collaboration and friendship” from their fellow craft brewers.

A purchase price for the company was not disclosed.

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