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Beer Giant Taps Into Cider in a Bid for Growth

Tuesday, 7 Feb 2012 | 2:27 PM ET

Tenth and Blake, the craft and import division of MillerCoors, is looking to take a bite out of the burgeoning cider industry with the acquisition of the Crispin Cider Company.

Crispin Cider
Source: Crispincider.com
Crispin Cider

The move will give the global beer giant a presence in the beer industry’s fastest growing category, hard cider.

Founded in October 2008, Minneapolis-based Crispin has seen rapid growth since its creation. The company grew 200 percent in 2011 to become the No. 3 producer of cider in the U.S.

“With cider's explosion in the U.S., we were looking at the best way to participate in that growth," Tenth and Blake President and CEO Tom Cardella said.

Cardella recently told CNBC that it planned to expand its businessand acquisitions were a possibility. MillerCoors has been using Tenth and Blake to manage its growing portfolio of craft beers.

The U.S. cider market is only a fraction — some 0.5 percent — of the size of the beer market, but it has doubled in size since 2005. Cider sales grew 26 percent from October 2010 to October 2011 to total $49.6 million, according to research firm SymphonyIRI.

Crispin’s CEO Joe Heron is no stranger to the fast growth and quick sale of a beverage company. Heron was the CEO behind Nutrisoda, which was sold to Pepsi in 2006, a mere 18 months after its creation.

Heron said he was "thrilled" with the deal. "We've always had very ambitious plans, and we're proud of what we're achieving with great products and an unrivaled creativity that mirrors the inspirational American craft-beer ethos,” he said.

Crispin will be operated as an independent division within Tenth and Blake, and help the business increase its scale and capacity as it continues to grow.

“Tenth and Blake provides us the capability to scale up at the same pace as our increasingly accelerating demand in the U.S. and beyond," Heron said.

Questions? Comments? Email us at consumernation@cnbc.com. Follow Tom Rotunno on Twitter @tomrotunno.

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