Movements within the craft beer sector continue to shape the landscape of the industry. Making the first headlines of 2016, Victory Brewing Company and Southern Tier are uniting under the parent company Artisanal Brewing Ventures (ABV). Formed to unify independent craft brewers and distillers, ABV embraces the collaborative craft spirit while administering crucial growth resources. Under the umbrella of ABV, Victory and Southern Tier will independently operate their breweries, commanding a joint capacity of over 800,000 barrels of potential annual production. The alliance creates one of the largest brewers in the Northeast and ranks within the top 15 craft brewing companies in the United States, according to Brewers Association criteria.

“The craft beer community is at its most critical moment since its inception as larger brewing corporations have bought into our grassroots movement, irrevocably changing the marketplace. Like-minded brewers such as Victory and Southern Tier can preserve our character, culture and products by banding together,” says Bill Covaleski, Victory founder and brewmaster. “Allied, we can continue to innovate and best serve the audience that fueled our growth through their loyal thirst.”

As the first major beer transaction in 2016, the deal marks what may become the new normal in the craft category. Major players like AB InBev, Heineken and Constellation Brands are scooping up smaller craft breweries in an attempt to remain relevant amid a growing American preference for craft brands. Because of this, a number of smaller brands may begin to band together in order to avoid jockeying for position on the shelf or falling off completely in a competitive market.

The transaction is expected to close within the next 60 days.