Stroh’s death knell rang in Bell’s Brewery and era of craft beer

Stroh Brewery Co. announced 30 years ago it would raze its 1 million-square-foot brewery, bottling and warehouse buildings on Gratiot Avenue at I-75. The late Peter Stroh, chairman of the iconic Detroit beer company, said no amount of investment could save the brewery in the face of a declining beer audience — which dropped from 31 million barrels to 24 million barrels annually.

That year, 1985, marked the beginning of the end of Stroh and a culture shift for Michigan beer drinkers as a small-time home brewer took his craft legal.

Larry Bell, Bell’s Brewery founder

Larry Bell founded Kalamazoo-based Bell’s Brewery Inc. the same year Stroh’s was razed and today is one of the largest local beer producers — expected to produce 410,000 barrels of craft beer in 2015.

Michigan craft beer accounted for only 6 percent of beer sold in the state in 2013, but it is growing at a clip that’s forced the industry to mature, has attracted financiers and is ripe for expansion and consolidation.

Beer giants Anheuser-Busch InBev NV and MillerCoors LLC continue to dominate beer sales in the U.S., with a 75 percent market share, but craft brewers cut into that margin every year.

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Anheuser-Busch interested in buying Tampa’s Cigar City Brewing

Cigar City Brewing produces such craft beers as Jai Alai IPA, Improv Oatmeal Rye India-Style Brown Ale and Cubano-Style Espresso Brown Ale. Owner Joey Redner says Anheuser-Busch has inquired about buying the business.

TAMPA — If you can’t beat ’em, buy’ em.

Despite its snarky Budweiser ad during the Super Bowl poking fun at craft beer, Anheuser-Busch has been steadily buying craft breweries around the country.

Could Tampa’s own Cigar City Brewing be next?

Founder and owner Joey Redner on Friday confirmed that the beer company’s representatives have reached out to him about buying his Tampa-based business.

Anheuser-Busch has a long history in the Tampa Bay area, having once operated a brewery and the Busch Gardens theme park here. The brewery closed in 1995, and the beer maker sold the park to investors in 2009.

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