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Opinion: Craft Beer Is In Monster Trouble - How Monster Beverage Corp.'s Acquisition of CANarchy Is Diluting The Industry

Opinion: Craft Beer Is In Monster Trouble - How Monster Beverage Corp.'s Acquisition of CANarchy Is Diluting The Industry

Get ready to sip on the bitter truth: Monster Brewing, a corporate Frankenstein born from the depths of consolidation, made it onto the Brewers Association’s Top 10 Craft Brewing Companies list. But hold your hops, because this 'craft' brewer is more about profit margins than passionate pints. Owned by Monster Beverage Corp., this beer behemoth churns out brews that might leave you wondering if the spirit of craft beer got lost in the corporate shuffle.

Craft Beer Is In Monster Trouble

Among the Brewers Association’s Top 10 Craft Brewing Companies in 2023 was a new name, which seemingly slipped in through the window in the dead of night: Monster Brewing.

Monster Brewing Co. is an independent brewer which grew from humble roots and unwavering dedication to quality, community and the spirit of craft brewing. Or was that Oskar Blues? Maybe Cigar City? Deep Ellum? Perrin? Utah Brewers Cooperative (formerly Wasatch and Squatters)? The correct answer is all of the above, and the correct answer to which of the above traits is true about MBC is none of the above. Monster Brewing Company is, of course, an alcoholic beverage arm of Monster Beverage Corp; a sort of Franken-craft collective born as a result of small brewer purchase and consolidation which is diluting the craft beer industry into something worse than the stalest Icehouse.

This corporate Frankenstein began in 2015 as CANarchy Craft Brewery Collective, a snappy name devised by Fireman Capital Partners, a private equity firm led by Reebok’s longtime CEO, Paul Fireman. Aiming his hose of liquid capital to capitalize on liquid, money pumped in and the breweries under CANarchy rapidly expanded. Press at the time read “Fireman Capital Isn’t Disrupting Craft Beer, It’s Sustaining It,” touting the move as “disruptive,” presumably because these breweries were “Independent, together.” Stronger, better, faster. But still the same old craft.

“Beer fans would be remiss to write CANarchy off as another “evil” empire destined to squash creativity,” reads a 2018 article. It’s not here to minimize consumer choice, nor to flip beloved breweries like Boca Raton condos.” It’s here to disrupt the industry and stick it to the man, just like BrewDog.

From the same article: “FCP isn’t preparing to flip its shares in the short term. ‘[FCP] can hold a business for five, 10, 20 years,’ says Matt Fraser, CANarchy president and COO. ‘Everybody’s joined the collective because of the long-term hold strategy.’"

Well, if that’s true, guess the joke’s on them, since CANarchy was flipped for $330 million, once its brands were neatly packaged to appeal to a bigger fish – less than four years since that quote from Fraser.

the beast can lineup by Monster Brewing on carpet against wall
Photo Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

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