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Bold Rock Cidery sold, joins North Carolina-based craft beer firm

Nelson County’s Bold Rock Cidery is being sold to Artisanal Brewing Ventures, a North Carolina-based beverage company that is one of the nation’s largest regional craft breweries, officials with both companies announced Wednesday.

Bold Rock is the second-largest cidery in the country, producing 80,000 barrels of craft cider and drinks each year. It is Virginia’s largest overall independent craft alcohol beverage brand.

Bold Rock founders John Washburn and Brian Shanks, who opened the company in 2012, will remain with ABV in some form of leadership role, officials announced.

“By joining ABV, a very talented, passionate and high-performing beverage company, we can extend our brand to new consumers up and down the East Coast,” said Washburn, in a prepared statement.

“Bold Rock’s portfolio is a perfect complement to ABV’s other partner breweries by bringing consumers a leading hard cider, a new hard seltzer and a line of canned cocktails,” said John Coleman, ABV’s CEO, in the same statement.

Bold Rock is the fourth company to join ABV, which includes Sixpoint Brewery, of Brooklyn, New York; Southern Tier Brewing Company, of Lakewood, New York; and Victory Brewing Company of Downington, Pennsylvania.

ABV was the 11th-largest craft brewery by volume in 2018, producing more than 310,000 barrels of beer, according to industry trade organizations.

It operates facilities in Brooklyn and Lakewood, New York as well as Cleveland, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. The Bold Rock acquisition gives ABV a leadership position in eight of the country’s top 50 markets for craft beer, hard cider, hard seltzer and premium spirits-based canned cocktails, according to the trade group Brewers Association.

Bold Rock operates the Bold Rock Cider Barn, in Nellysford, with a cidery and tasting room overlooking the Rockfish River Valley. Its second and larger production facility and taproom is in Mills River, North Carolina.

The cidery produces a dozen hard cider products including IPA, the top-selling hopped cider in the country. This year, Bold Rock launched an apple-based hard seltzer line and a line of premium ready-to-drink canned cocktails.

Bold Rock’s four taproom locations will be added to ABV’s current footprint of nine open or announced taprooms, which will give ABV and the Bold Rock brand access to more than two million customers a year.

ABV came about in 2014 when New York-based Southern Tier Brewing sold stock to the private equity group, Ulysses Management, which has more than $1 billion in capital under management, according to its website.

The website states that the investment firm makes its capital investments across five to 10 year business cycles and focuses on strategic, long-term returns rather than short-term returns.

In 2016, ABV was created when Pennsylvania-based Victory Brewing joined Southern Tier. The company then acquired Sixpoint Brewery, of Brooklyn, New York, last November.

“With the addition of Bold Rock, ABV is strongly positioned to address the evolving needs of the craft consumer,” Coleman said.

The transaction is expected to close before the end of the year.


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