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Craft Brewing And Distilling News for April 13, 2016

April 13, 2016

•Anheuser-Busch InBev (ABI) has agreed to purchase Lexington, Virginia-based Devils Backbone Brewing for an undisclosed sum. Established in 2008, Devils Backbone operates Outpost Brewery & Taproom in Lexington (its primary production center), and Basecamp Brewpub & Meadows in nearby Roseland, and is projecting production of 95,000 barrels this year. The brewery is best known for its flagship Vienna Lager, which accounts for around 60% of volume. The deal is expected to close in the second quarter. Devils Backbone will join ABI’s The High End division, established last year to handle craft and European import brews. Along with Devils Backbone, The High End unit includes Goose Island, Blue Point, Elysian, Golden Road and Four Peaks among others.

•A pioneering craft beer brand, Baderbräu Brewing Co., is returning to the market in mid-May with the opening of a 25,000-square-foot brewery and taproom in Chicago’s South Loop neighborhood. The owner is Rob Sama, formerly a home brewer who acquired the defunct trademark in 2012 and had the beer made on a contract basis until now. Baderbräu was founded in 1988 and was produced by Douglas Babcock, previously a vice president at Stroh’s, who was a factor in starting several other early craft beers in that era. Sama tracked down Babcock, now living in Canada, and the original Baderbräu yeast strains, which had been preserved in a university laboratory, to replicate the original recipe, which employed authentic Saaz Bohemian hops and non-pasteurization. Baderbräu, which was once publicly traded and later owned by Goose Island Brewery for a time after the original company went bankrupt in 1998, was best known for its Pilsner. Sama continues to make that along with an India pale lager called Lawnmower Lager (5.5% abv), a black lager called Naked Selfie (6.0% abv) and a bock called Red Velvet (6.0% abv). Some two decades ago the noted British beer critic Michael Jackson called Baderbräu “one of the two or three best Pilsners made in America.”

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