A-B InBev could face federal investigation over craft beer claims of distribution restrictions

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ST. LOUIS (KTVI) – As word spreads of Anheuser-Busch InBev’s blockbuster acquisition of rival brewer SABMiller, the U.S. Justice Department is examining craft breweries’ accusations of the beer giant buying distributors, thus making it harder for those craft companies to do business.

In a statement to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, an A-B InBev spokesperson confirmed the company was talking with California state regulators and the DoJ “to address any questions they have.”

Many states, like California, require beer companies to use a distributor to push their products to market. Craft beer companies fear A-B InBev, which has purchased five distributors in three states, will push distributors to carry only their beers, and thus sabotaging craft beer sales growth.

According to the Brewers Association, craft beer sales increased nearly 18 percent in 2014, earning a total of $19.6 billion. To be considered a craft brewery, a beer maker must produce fewer than 6 million barrels per year.

More than two dozen craft breweries call St. Louis home.