The London-headquartered SAB Miller is the world’s second largest beer supplier by volume, but Meantime is the first homegrown British brewery in its ranks.
Meantime’s existing management team, led by founder and master brewer Alastair Hook and chief executive Nick Miller - who was managing director at SAB Miller UK before moving to Meantime in 2011 - will continue to run the company, reporting to Sue Clark, SAB Miller’s managing director for Europe.
Hook said: “When I started Meantime back in a tram shed in 1999, I had a vision that British beer would one day become world-leading.
“I wanted to see London brewed beers given an opportunity to take the world stage – by combining a respect for our great brewing history with an approach that embraces modern technology and production. This partnership means that we now have the opportunity to see that vision become a reality.”
It follows on from Molson Coors buying Cornish craft brewer Sharp’s and AB-Inbev swallowing up the likes of Goose Island.
But Miller, who spent six years at SAB Miller and previously worked at Coors and Bass, insisted that SAB Miller “shares our passion for putting great beer first” and promised that Meantime – famed for its pale ale, London lager, Yakima Red and pilsner – would continue to innovate.
He said: “I can say from personal experience, that SAB Miller is a great company to be joining forces with. I am delighted that they have seen the opportunity and believe in the longevity of the modern craft beer category in the UK and beyond. SABMiller has a long track record in nurturing local-market beer businesses that are recognised and loved worldwide.
“SABMiller shares our passion for putting great beer first and making, selling and marketing it responsibly to drinkers worldwide. The team at SABMiller have stressed how important our culture has been to our success to date and wish to see it retained within the business going forward.
“We are all excited about the opportunity to continue growing Meantime. We are also thrilled and flattered that SABMiller has given us a remit to continue to innovate.
“This is a massive compliment and acknowledges our position as pioneers in the modern craft beer category in the UK.”
SAB Miller is aiming to build distribution outside of Meantime’s London heartland by targeting “key cities across the UK”, while also pushing into export markets.
It will also install a new “pilot brewing facility” at Meantime’s Greenwich brewery, led by Hook, which will become a centre for innovation and new product development for SABMiller Europe.
SAB Miller said the pilot brewery will allow Meantime to continue to create innovative beer styles for Meantime’s seasonal, limited-edition and permanent ranges.
SAB Miller’s Clark said: “Meantime has been at the forefront of the modern craft beer movement in the UK and brews an outstanding range of beers across a variety of styles. At SABMiller we love local variety, and carefully nurture our 200 local and heritage beers. Meantime, born in a city with a rich beer heritage, will be a special new addition to the SABMiller family.
“Nick Miller, Alastair Hook and their team have built a strong sense of pride and identity within Meantime – which has an excellent reputation for brewing consistently high quality beers – and for industry-leading innovation.”