Anheuser-Busch invests $6m in new canning line at Portsmouth brewery

Beer production expected to more than double by 2024
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U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan, left, chats with Nick Murray, general manager at the Cisco brewery at the recent announcement that Anheuser-Busch has invested $6 million in a new canning line for the facility, which is located at the Pease International Tradeport in Portsmouth. (Courtesy photo)

Beer giant Anheuser-Busch has made significant investments in New Hampshire over the years.

Merrimack has been home to its Budweiser brewery since 1970, where its 1 million-square-foot plant brews 20 different brands. Now another investment is about to pay off in the Granite State with the recent by that A-B that it has invested $6 million in a new state-of-the-art canning line at its Portsmouth brewery, which produces the company’s beer, cider and hard tea offerings.

The investment is a next step for the Portsmouth plant after Anheuser-Busch in 2020 solidified a deal to buy all of Craft Brew Alliance (CBA), which operated the Portsmouth plant under the Cisco Brewers brand.

The $220 million deal, which required U.S. Justice Department approval, included the Portland, Ore.-based CBA’s Appalachian Mountain Brewery, Cisco Brewers, Redhook Brewery and Widmer Brothers Brewing.

Anheuser-Busch owned 31.2 percent of CBA before the full acquisition was announced. It also distributed many of CBA’s brands.

According to A-B, the revamped can line will enable the Portsmouth facility to brew and package a forecasted 29 percent more beer in 2023. In 2024, production is expected to increase to 56 percent more beer.

“As a company, we’re committed to investing in our facilities and supporting our local communities by creating and sustaining jobs,” said Brendan Whitworth, CEO of Anheuser-Busch, in a statement. “Our Portsmouth brewery plays an important role in producing beers and other high-quality products for our consumers to enjoy. This isn’t just an investment in our local facility — it’s an investment in a community where we live, work and operate.”

Completed in 2023

The Portsmouth facility’s history goes back to 1996, when Redhook Brewery originally built it on 13 acres at Pease International Tradeport. Its architecture is an exact replica of Redhook’s original Woodinville, Wash., brewery, and made Redhook the first bicoastal craft brewing operation in the U.S.

In 2016, the current canning line was added to accommodate consumers’ changing preferences from bottles to cans.

Cisco Brewers and the CBA announced in June 2018 a partnership through which Cisco would brand and manage the restaurant and event space at the Pease location. The brewery and the brewpub are still identified by the Cisco brand.

The brewery itself totals 104,000 square feet. It has 92,000 square feet of production and 12,000 square feet for the adjoining brewpub and event space. Construction of the canning line began in late 2022 and was completed in early 2023.

U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan joined A-B at the Portsmouth location for its investment announcement.

She said the investment “will create jobs, strengthen our economy and ensure that New Hampshire remains one of the premier brewery destinations in the country,” said Hassan in a statement.

Anheuser-Busch, which in 2008 became a subsidiary of Anheuser- Busch InBev, owns and operates over 120 breweries around the country and employs over 19,000 people.

The outright purchase of CBA in 2020 added to a long list of beer and beverage offerings.

CBA’s list of brews includes: Redhook, Widmer Brothers, Omission (a gluten-free beer), Square Mile Cider, Appalachian Mountain, Cisco and Wynwood. Kona was part of the CBA make-up but a condition of the U.S. Justice Department’s approval of the sale – because of antitrust considerations – was that the companies sell off CBA’s Kona brand beer. It is now owned by PV Brewing Partners, which is based in Hawaii.

A-B’s long list of beverages includes: Budweiser, Bud Light, Michelob Ultra, Stella Artois, Estrella Jalisco, Busch, Natural Light, Landshark, Presidente, Hoegaarden, Shock Top, 10 Barrel, Blue/Point, Breckenridge, Devils Backbone, Elysian, Four Peaks, Golden Road, Goose Island, Karbach, Platform, Veza Sur, Virtue Cider and Wicked Weed.

Anheuser-Busch said the expanded partnership with CBA will help grow its Brewers Collective, which is the craft business unit of Anheuser-Busch. The Cisco plant brews products from multiple brands in the Brewers Collective.

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