Consolidation runs rampant in the world of craft cider and beer, but the founder of Washington’s largest cidery says it’s not the big guys that are crowding him so much as the booming number of small producers.

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In the alcoholic beverage world, the surprise international deal of the week was not the just-finalized $100 billion Megabrew tie-up of beer giants SAB Miller and AB InBev, the owner of Budweiser.

Around here, at least, the trans-Atlantic transaction of note is the sale of Seattle Cider, the state’s top cidery, and its sister company Two Beers Brewing, to a big French farmers’ cooperative called Agrial. Terms were not disclosed.

“The world of craft beer and cider is changing really rapidly and drastically,” Joel VandenBrink, founder and CEO of both Seattle companies, said in an interview.

It’s not so much the competition from Big Beer that prompted him to sell when approached by Agrial, said VandenBrink, who started Two Beers in 2007 and Seattle Cider just three years ago. Rather, it’s the proliferation of small producers who are all jostling for the same distribution and same customers.

“I don’t even think about those big guys when I think about competition,” he said.

His big challenge in recent years has been from the boom in independent craft producers. “Since I started Two Beers, there’s more than triple the number of breweries in Washington state alone.”

“If I am to lose a local tap handle it isn’t because of a Budweiser product, it’s another local brewery that’s just started to package or just opened their doors that will take my tap handle or take my shelf space,” said VandenBrink. “More breweries are opening up but the shelf space isn’t getting bigger.”

When Elysian Brewing is sold to AB InBev or when cideries are swallowed up — in the past 12 months, Pabst Brewing inked an exclusive partnership with Vermont Hard Cider and AB InBev acquired Virtue Cider — they effectively move into a different league, he said.

Erik Einwalter, the Cascadia Capital investment banker who represented VandenBrink in the deal, noted that mass-market cider producer Angry Orchard is owned by Boston Beer, Stella Artois has brought on its own cider brand, and the Woodchuck and Crispin brands were acquired in 2012 by bigger beverage producers.

Now Seattle Cider, producing 21,000 barrels a year, and Two Beers, with 8,000 barrels (not enough to rank in the top dozen statewide), have gone down a separate but similar road.

They are dwarfed by Agrial — a co-op with 12,000 member farmers and more than $5 billion in 2015 revenue. (That’s more than twice the size of the Northwest agricultural co-op Darigold.) But VandenBrink said his companies will play a strategic role, rather than being absorbed.

They’ll guide distribution as Agrial, France’s top cider maker, expands in the U.S. Conversely, next spring VandenBrink will start selling his beers internationally through Agrial.

That will require adding capacity and a bottling line (Europe’s not into the craft can thing, he said) — all of which will happen in Seattle.

“This partnership really gives Joel the resources to compete as he grows,” said Einwalter.

Though described as a merger, the transaction is a sale: “They are full owners, I am an employee at this point,” said VandenBrink.

But he said the deal satisfied his goals of guiding the companies’ future and maintaining their management and staff, “because they are the ones that helped us get to this point.”