Maker of Cass buys local craft beer company

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Maker of Cass buys local craft beer company


A subsidiary of Oriental Brewery, best known for its Cass brand, has acquired a homegrown craft beer firm, “The Hand & Malt Brewing Company.”

This is the first time the Korean unit of Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev), the world’s largest beer company, has bought a local craft beer house.

Under the deal inked on April 2, ZX Ventures, a 20 month-old subsidiary of Oriental Brewery, acquired a 100 percent stake in Hands and Malt, a private company, and its president and founder Bryan Do will retain his position as president.

Although neither party confirmed details, the acquisition cost approximately 10 billion won ($9.4 million), according to sources familiar with the matter.

“ZX Ventures has been seeking to diversify its business and Hand & Malt made a proposal a year ago,” said a spokeswoman from Oriental Brewery, which is wholly owned by the Belgian giant.

ZX Ventures has various brands in its portfolio but they are all foreign. One of the best-known is Goose Island, a Chicago-based brewery AB InBev purchased in 2011. It has been expanding robustly in Korea with new tap rooms in various locations.

“We don’t have a craft beer brand that represents Korea yet,” said the Oriental Brewery spokeswoman. “We plan to foster Hand & Malt on a global scale largely because its beer lineup is unique and experimental. We believe the beers with a Korean touch will work internationally.”

Some of Hand & Malt’s stand-out beers include a pale ale that uses perilla leaves, better known in Korea as “kkaetnip,” instead of hops, a traditional favoring and stability agent in beer.

Its sour ale K Weisse is made with lactobacillus from kimchi and is being exported to Japan.

Do founded Hand and Malt with several private investors in 2014 after running two successful restaurants and working at Microsoft Korea, responsible for public relations and marketing and sales.

The brewery also operates a tap room in Seochon, central Seoul, and has been supplying to restaurant and pubs around the country.

As to the reason for selling his company to Oriental Brewery, the 45-year-old Korean-American entrepreneur told a local magazine Tuesday that he had limited financial resources to invest in new products when compared to larger players.

Following the acquisition, Hand and Malt will expand production capacity by building a larger factory next to its brewery located in Namyangju, Gyeonggi, and keep developing new craft beers using Korea’s indigenous ingredients such as garlic, green pepper and pear.

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