Canadian cannabis company Aphria plans to acquire Atlanta’s SweetWater Brewing Company in a multi-million dollar deal. A late Wednesday afternoon press release announced the intended acquisition of SweetWater Brewing and indicates the $300 million deal should be finalized by the end of December.
Aphria has no plans to make any changes to SweetWater’s beers or branding or its taproom and kitchen operations once the acquisition is complete. Founder Freddy Bensch will remain as SweetWater’s CEO, and Aphria will retain the brewery’s management team and its 125 employees.
The announcement of the impending acquisition comes after Arizona, South Dakota, Montana, and New Jersey approved ballot measures on November 3 to legalize recreational marijuana for adults in those states, joining 11 other states across the country. In the press release, Aphria states it plans to build up infrastructure and position the company to quickly expand distribution into other markets throughout the United States, and in the event recreational marijuana becomes federally legalized.
SweetWater’s current bottling and canning capabilities are estimated at nearly 23.5 million gallons annually, with kegging at approximately 1.5 million annually. SweetWater products can be found at over 10,000 restaurants and bars and 29,000 retail locations across the U.S., according to the press release. Aphria hopes to introduce the U.S. market to its brand via craft beer, along with non-alcoholic drinks and products and other beverages, including the burgeoning hard seltzer market, which SweetWater began producing earlier this year.
Bensch founded SweetWater Brewing Company in 1997. In addition to its seasonal beers and year-round brews, like SweetWater 420 Extra Pale Ale, 420 IPA, and Goin’ Coastal IPA, the brewery introduced a 420 strains line last year using terpenes and natural hemp flavors. The company also hosts SweetWater 420 Fest music festival in downtown Atlanta every year.
In 2019, the brewery revamped its taproom and opened a full-service kitchen serving snacks and pub bites to pair with SweetWater’s beers. Several dishes incorporate SweetWater brews, like the 420 boiled peanuts and beer-battered cod sandwich.