The CEO of Balter Brewing Company, Ant Macdonald has told TheShout that the brewery is determined to keep doing what it has been doing for the last three years, and it was only getting guarantees on that, which saw the deal with Carlton & United Breweries (CUB) go ahead.

As reported on TheShout yesterday, CUB has added Balter to its stable of craft breweries in a deal, which has taken around nine months to complete.

Macdonald told TheShout: “The thing that has helped us is the people with Balter, so it starts with the people and the culture. We’re a business that is focused on we have to be better tomorrow than we are today.

“Even after we win awards we come back and every day we are thinking about how we can be better, how we can improve everything, drive more efficiency and ultimately how can we make our beer better. And that’s what gets us up in the morning and the hallmark of Balter has been built around that, and that’s every part of the business from finance through to brewing, it’s all about excellence.”

He added: “We wouldn’t have done this deal if CUB wanted to change that. We get to keep our identity. It’s the same team, same ingredients, same process tomorrow as it was yesterday, so nothing changes for us.

“All the co-founders are staying on-board, all the senior management are staying on-board, the whole team stays on-board. So it’s really just about partnering with CUB to reach a lot wider audience that we could have ever imagined.

“For us, it’s about relationships and feeling comfortable with people. We felt really comfortable with how that relationship fitted and also the opportunity to really our take our beer and message a lot further than we ever dreamed.

“That’s something really special for us. For a couple of young surfers dreaming up the idea to build a brewery and maybe one day be able to walk into a stadium and actually drink one of our beers is a pretty special thing for us.”

TheShout also spoke to Peter Filipovic, the CEO of CUB who said that he and Balter had been talking for some time, and that the deal had complete approval from current and potential owners through to the competition regulator.

“We’ve been chatting probably for the best part of six to nine months on-and-off,” Filipovic said. “The beer industry is obviously a small industry and you see each other at various awards and functions.

“So we had an initial chat, and as Ant has said, you have to be comfortable with who you are partnering with and from CUB’s perspective it is also very important that the company we partner with has a great team and a great culture and that was really apparent from day one. You could see they weren’t just a small team with no governance or process. They had a plan to achieve further growth and I don’t think it was as a result of luck that they have got to where they have got to over the last three-and-a-half years.”

He added: “The deal has been approved by all the regulatory authorities and our current and potential future owners. This is a very small share of the market and the ACCC looked at it in the context of not just this transaction but the broader transaction and approved it.”

The deal does mean that Balter is no longer a member of the Independent Brewers Association (IBA). In a statement yesterday, the IBA said: “All business owners have the right to make that decision and we congratulate [Balter] for taking the leap to start a business and for getting some form of return for their efforts. However, their IBA membership had already lapsed and as they have made the decision to sell the business to a large brewer, they made that decision in full knowledge that they are no longer eligible to be a member of the IBA.

“It’s also worth reminding everyone of why the IBA has its membership criteria in place.

“The large multinational brewers and beverage companies have access to a vast amount of technical resources. They have a powerful seat at the table when it comes to advocacy, and they have well-resourced marketing programs and dominant distribution platforms.

“Individually the Independent brewers in Australia do not have access to that level of resource and therefore we have committed to a membership organisation that develops a strong collective voice, and collaboratively develops and provides resources which its members could never access on their own.

“We need to maintain the integrity of Independent beer on behalf of the hundreds of brewers who remain truly independent and be focussed on supporting the small independent brewers who will benefit from that.”

Andy Young

Andy joined Intermedia as Editor of The Shout in 2015, writing news on a daily basis and also writing features for National Liquor News. Now Managing Editor of both The Shout and Bars and Clubs.

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