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Labatt buys Toronto craft brewer Mill Street

Mill Street CEO Irvine Weitzman, Labatt president Jan Craps and Mill Street's brewmaster Joel Manning and co-founder Steve Abrams (l-r) on Friday announced Labatt has bought the Toronto craft beer company. (CNW Group/Labatt Breweries of Canada)

An award-winning Toronto craft brewer, famed as the biggest certified organic brewer in Canada, is now owned by the makers of Bud and Blue.

Labatt Breweries, the Canadian arm of Anheuser-Busch InBev, announced Friday it has bought Mill Street Brewery for an undisclosed sum and will “immediately” invest $10 million in upgrades at Mill Street’s Toronto plant.

Mill Street brewmaster Joel Manning, who will continue in that role, said Labatt’s investment in a “state-of-the-art brewhouse, that Mill Street will run on a stand-alone basis, positions us to reach the very top of our craft.”

Labatt said the deal will allow Mill Street, which operates brew pubs in both Toronto and Ottawa, to “deepen its traction with consumers in the fast-growing craft beer segment.”

Mill Street opened as an organic brewery in Toronto’s Distillery District in 2002, converting that space to a brew pub in 2006 when it set up an expanded brewery. It opened its Ottawa pub in 2012, in a former grist mill on the Ottawa River.

The company’s brands include its Mill Street Original Organic Lager, 100th Meridian, Barley Wine, Belgian Wit, Coffee Porter, Vanilla Porter, Lemon Tea Beer, Spring Thaw Maple Ale, Tankhouse Ale, Portage Ale and Cobblestone Stout.

“Our partnership and investment will accelerate its growth in one of the most dynamic beer segments, while fully preserving Mill Street’s creative character and pioneering spirit,” Labatt president Jan Craps said in a release.

Mill Street CEO Irvine Weitzman, in the same release, described the deal as “a natural evolution in our growth that will allow more Canadians to enjoy our beer and secure the legacy of our brands.”

Belgian mega-brewer AB InBev, whose heritage company Interbrew bought Labatt in 1995, recently put out a $136 billion takeover offer for rival SABMiller, which on Wednesday rejected InBev’s offer. — Network


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