U.S. Kirin Production to Move From Anheuser-Busch to New Belgium

July 2, 2024 – Kirin Ichiban beer will no longer be produced by Anheuser-Busch InBev starting next year, according to a press release issued today. Starting in January, Kirin’s subsidiary New Belgium Brewing will take over the stateside production of the beer, and will start brewing it at its facilities in Asheville, North Carolina and Fort Collins, Colorado.

The move marks the end of Kirin Brewery of America, a partnership between Anheuser-Busch and Kirin Brewery that began in 1996. That venture allowed Kirin to expand its presence in the United States by having the beer produced and distributed in the country by AB. In 2006, the partnership was expanded when AB took over full ownership of the venture, with Kirin granting them a license to brew the beer for 18 years.

Nearly two decades on, however, and Kirin’s presence in the American market is much changed. With its purchase of New Belgium Brewing in 2019 and Bell’s Brewing in 2021, Kirin now is the ninth biggest brewing company in the United States, according to the Brewer’s Association. That places them higher than Boston Beer Company, Sierra Nevada, and Sapporo-Stone, even without the Kirin lager production volume.

The full statement is below

New Belgium Brewing to Assume U.S. Production of Premium Japanese Import Beers, Kirin Ichiban and Kirin Light

All U.S. production of Kirin Ichiban and Kirin Light will be moved to New Belgium Brewing facilities. Currently produced by Anheuser-Busch, Kirin Ichiban and Kirin Light production will transition to New Belgium’s Fort Collins and Asheville brewing facilities at the end of 2024, timed with the conclusion of Kirin’s contract brewing agreement with Anheuser-Busch. This decision comes as a result of Kirin’s intent to move U.S. beer production to their subsidiary’s facilities following their recent partnership with New Belgium Brewing.

New Belgium production, marketing, and sales of Kirin Ichiban and Kirin Light is expected to begin in January 2025. Until then, Anheuser-Busch will continue to brew and distribute the brands as usual. All parties are working together towards a seamless transition and will continue to communicate announcements promptly.

“I want to thank Kirin for entrusting New Belgium as stewards of Kirin Ichiban and Kirin Light across the United States,” said New Belgium CEO Shaun Belongie. “We’re excited to grow our production portfolio and we’re confident in our capacity to expand upon the success of these powerful brands.”

New Belgium Brewing is a subsidiary of Australian-based beverage group, Lion, a subsidiary of Kirin Holdings.

“We appreciate Anheuser-Busch’s many years of strong business partnership supporting Kirin Ichiban and Kirin Light in the U.S. Moving these brands to New Belgium is a logical decision as we consider the strategic direction of our business in the U.S for years to come” said Masakazu Ashida, General Manager of Overseas Business Department, Kirin Brewery Company. “We are grateful for all parties’ collaboration and commitment to ensuring continued success of our brands during this time” of transition”.