Calgary-based Banded Peak Brewing acquired by Labatt

Alberta's craft beer industry saw another major development earlier this week when Labatt Breweries of Canada purchased Calgary's Banded Peak Brewing Ltd.

It's the second purchase of a local craft brewery in less than a year

Alex Horner, left, Matt Berard and Colin McLean co-founded Banded Peak Brewing, which was sold to Labatt earlier this week. (Banded Peak Brewing)

Alberta's craft beer industry saw another major development earlier this week when Labatt Breweries of Canada acquired Calgary's Banded Peak Brewing Ltd.

It's the second time in the past year an Alberta-based craft brewer has been purchased by a large multinational company. Last May, shareholders of Wild Rose Brewery voted in favour of accepting an offer from Sleeman Breweries.

The value of the deal was not disclosed, and Banded Peak will continue to use the same ingredients at its brewery and will not brew other Labatt products.

"When we started this four years ago, we had no idea that this was even a possibility," said Alex Horner, co-founder of the brewery. "Right from the beginning, our goal has just been to make awesome craft beer and to share it with as many people as we can. This partnership is a huge opportunity for us."

Horner started the brewery with his friends Matthew Berard and Colin McLean. Including that trio, the brewery now has 11 full-time employees and four part-time employees, all of whom will retain their jobs moving forward.

"This is an incredibly good thing for Alberta and for craft beer," Horner said. "It shows that we're getting noticed on a much larger scale, and that there's investment coming into our province. We're going to take the things we've been doing and do them at a much larger scale."

Growlers hang from the ceiling at Banded Peak Brewing Company, located in Calgary's so-called 'Barley Belt' with several other craft breweries in the city's southeast. (Anis Heydari/CBC)

Labatt's head of craft Rob Legate said the company had taken notice of Alberta's craft beer scene, which he said was growing at a faster rate than craft beer across the rest of Canada.

"We were excited to be a part of that. Therefore, we partnered up with Banded Peak, which is a super exciting brand," Legate said. "Three amazing guys founded it, and we're looking forward to working with them and partnering for the long-term here."

Legate said recipes and personnel would remain the same, while Labatt would leverage its scale to make more of the beer and transport it to more Albertans across the province. 

Peter Johnston-Berresford, an instructor in brewery operations at Olds College in Olds, Alta., said fans of Banded Peak products shouldn't worry too much about a large corporation interfering with the product.

"That's been the marketing around this sale, is that they're not going to touch the beer, just to amplify their sales," he said. "They're good beer, so why would a big company like that want to interfere with that?"

The two craft brewery sales in the past year reflected maturation in the industry, Johnston-Berresford said, though he noted that the success of each individual sale would be based on its merits.

"If anything, this has reconfirmed that this is not just an art, in brewing beer. It's really a business," he said.

With files from Kyle Bakx


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