A-B gobbles up Rolling Rock

What's the price for a beer these days? A beer company, that is.

In the case of Rolling Rock, it's $82 million, the price Anheuser-Busch Cos. Inc. will pay to acquire it from InBev USA. That's the U.S. subsidiary of Belgian-Brazilian brewer InBev SA.

A-B plans to begin producing Rolling Rock and Rock Green Light in August at its Newark, N.J., facility. That means the famous Latrobe, PA, brewery where Rock beers have been made since 1893, will be put up for sale and its 200 employees laid off.

"We have an ideal opportunity to grow this historic brand," Anheuser-Busch president August A. Busch IV said in a press statement. "This beer is not like others, and its consumer following is equally distinctive."

Meanwhile, A-B reportedly is about to purchase a 35% share of the Goose Island Beer Co., and take over all distribution of the Chicago beer. The impending deal was reported by the Chicago Tribune, which said neither side would comment publicly.

Sales of Goose Island grew 24 percent in 2005, led by its signature brew, Honkers Ale. According to data compiled by Information Resources Inc., Goose sold $4.2 million in beer, up from $3.4 million in 2004.

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