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Monday, February 19, 2007

Anheuser-Busch Closes in on Old Dominion Deal

It has been in the rumor mill for several months, but it now looks like Old Dominion Brewing Co. in Virginia might come under the influence of America's largest brewing concern in a matter of a couple of weeks. Like similar recent deals, Anheuser-Busch is set to partner with another craft brewer in the transaction.

Old Dominion was headed toward an employee buyout last year, but that deal fell through. Now Anheuser-Busch and the Fordham Brewery/Ram's Head Tavern group in Maryland have applied for an alcohol license under the Coastal Brewing Co. banner.

While Old Dominion, A-B and Fordham/Ram's Head would not comment, The Washington Post reported that the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control confirmed it had received an application for a license under the Coastal Brewing name at the end of January. It typically takes about a month for the review of these types of applications to be completed.

A-B already has ownership positions and distribution alliances with a number of craft brewers around the U.S. These include Redhook Ale Breweries, Widmer Brothers, Goose Island and Kona Brewing. The company purchased the Rolling Rock brand in 2006 and has been rolling out a number of regional brands, organic beers and gluten-free products under labels that often do not list any connection to the mother ship in St. Louis.

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