Redhook and Widmer "Consolidating"?

Breaking news, and it's interesting:
Northwest brewers Redhook, Widmer to discuss consolidation
Merger talks to begin in next few days


Redhook Ale Brewery Inc. and Widmer Brothers Brewing Co., both partly owned by Anheuser-Busch Cos., are considering a possible merger that would give the companies better access to new drinkers.

The two brewers will begin merger talks within the next few days, Redhook Chief Executive Paul Shipman said. St. Louis-based Anheuser-Busch disclosed the plans between the two companies Wednesday in a regulatory filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Redhook and Widmer have had a relationship for 20 years and already share some marketing and distribution. A combination would allow the brewers to cut costs and fully consolidate their operations, and give Portland-based Widmer more access to Redhook's brewery in Portsmouth, N.H.

"There's going to be discussions between Redhook and Widmer on a number of things, including a possible merger," Shipman said. "We haven't actually started the conversation yet."

Redhook, based in Woodinville, operates two breweries, and Widmer has one. Redhook had sales of $31 million in 2005, down 7 percent from the prior year.

Redhook produced about 225,000 barrels of beer last year, and Widmer made about 250,000 barrels, said Widmer spokesman Tim McFall. A barrel equals 31 gallons of beer.

Anheuser-Busch, the world's largest brewer, owns 33.6 percent of Redhook and a 39.5 percent stake in Widmer. The company said it expects Redhook would be the surviving company should a merger take place.

Sounds like it might not have much effect on either brewery. I hadn't realized that Widmer had eclipsed Redhook in barrelage. Stay tuned...