With its brightly colored tall-boy cans and brash marketing, Monster could almost be mistaken for a trendy indy brewery—if it weren’t also a Coca-Cola partner and NASCAR sponsor, with products ubiquitous in convenience-store fridges and supermarket impulse racks across the country.
Now, apparently, that association with craft beer won’t be misplaced at all. With the planned acquisition of CANarchy Brewery Collective, announced January 13, Monster Beverage is entering the world of independent brewing.
“Independent” remains the right word, according to the definition of the Brewers Association. The industry group for smaller, independent brewers went so far as to issue a statement on the same day to clarify that position.
“Based on our current information, CANarchy meets the Brewers Association’s craft brewer definition under the ownership of Monster Energy as presently constituted,” spokesperson Meg Weldon says in the statement. “In this instance, Monster is not a beverage alcohol industry member, so this new ownership structure does not affect CANarchy’s independence in regard to the beverage alcohol industry.”
Members of the Brewers Association are “small and independent craft brewers.” A brewery qualifies if it produces 6 million barrels of beer or less per year, and if less than 25 percent of it is owned or controlled by an alcoholic drinks company that is not a craft brewer. Because Monster produces energy drinks and not beer or booze, it’s considered independent according to the BA’s current definition.
The CANarchy Brewery Collective includes Cigar City in Tampa; Deep Ellum in Dallas; Oskar Blues in Lyons, Colorado; Perrin in Comstock Park, Michigan; and Squatters and Wasatch in Salt Lake City. Together, it comprises the country’s sixth-largest brewing company, producing about 500,000 barrels per year. The sale is reportedly for $330 million, with the deal expected to be final within the first quarter of the year.
Coca-Cola reportedly owns about one-fifth of Monster. According to Hilton Schlosberg, Monster’s co-CEO and vice chairman, the reason for the CANarchy deal is what many would guess: a chance to get into alcoholic drinks. “The acquisition will provide us with a fully in-place infrastructure, including people, distribution, and licenses, along with alcoholic beverage development expertise and manufacturing capabilities in this industry,” Schlosberg says in the announcement.
“The team at CANarchy is thrilled to be joining Monster,” says Tony Short, CANarchy CEO, in the Monster announcement. “We look forward to capitalizing on the combined expertise of Monster and CANarchy to further strengthen our current alcoholic product offerings, expand our product portfolio to meet the ever-changing needs of our customers, and to grow our business.”