By James Atkinson

Independent Distillers' acquisition of boutique beer brand Cricketers Arms continues the Asahi subsidiary's reinvention as a major multibeverage supplier, according to Independent Distillers CEO Greg Ellery.

Announcing the acquisition of Cricketers Arms this week, Independent Distillers said the brand provides it with a "highly creditable domestic mainstream craft beer company" to further enhance its beer portfolio since it was acquired by Asahi Group Holdings in September 2011.

Independent Distillers CEO Greg Ellery told TheShout this morning that the deal is the result of 12 months of research by the company into the craft beer segment.

"What we found, speaking to a lot of on-premise operators, was that publicans are more interested in serving mainstream craft-oriented products because they get better patronage out of it," he said.

"We didn't want to buy a company where the chances are that people would only have one pint before switching to something else because it was too heavy."

"Our research continually came back with the concept of 'sessionable' craft."

Ellery confirmed Cricketers Arms currently has several other variants in development beyond its single existing lager SKU, including a mid-strength lager titled 'Mid On' and a 5.2 per cent full-strength beer, Cricketers India Pale Ale. 

"I'd say you'll see them and more before the end of the year," he said. [continues below]

L-R: Independent Distillers general manager of marketing, Kate Dowd, CEO Greg Ellery and general manager of sales, Michael Ritoli 

Founded by hospitality professional Paul Scott in January 2009, Cricketers Arms Lager is currently produced under contract at Mildura Brewery

Ellery said production of Cricketers Arms will not be moved to Independent Distillers' Laverton facility until the Asahi subsidiary completes major plant upgrades including the addition of a new high speed and high volume keg line.

"As a company we're going to start making a lot of investment in the on-premise market. We're investing in brands and infrastructure to make sure we can supply a full service to the on-premise customers," he said.

"We've always been seen as an RTD company, and now our focus has become very much multibeverage. We now have brands such as Asahi Super Dry, Somersby Cider, which is proof we're going to a more diverse product portfolio."

Ellery reiterated that Asahi Super Dry will always be imported from Japan, but he said Somersby will be brewed locally in the future and supplied on draught.

Cricketers Arms CEO Paul Scott said: "This is a very exciting time for Cricketers, I’m looking forward to growing the product range and market share and working closely with the great team at Independent Distillers, whose philosophy matches ours."

The Shout Team

The leading online news service for Australia's beer, wine, spirits and hospitality industries.

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