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Melvin Brewing Seeks ‘Strategic Partner,’ Explores Possible Sale of Company

By Justin Kendall - Brewbound

Another craft brewery is exploring a potential sale of the company.

Melvin Brewing announced today it is seeking “a strategic partner” to “support and assist with current growth initiatives,” a process that could lead to the sale of the Alpine, Wyoming-based craft brewery.

The company has retained GLC Advisors & Co. LLC, an investment banking advisory firm, and Ethan Stienstra, a beverage brand portfolio and marketing strategist who co-founded consulting firm Ahead of the Curve and The E-Premise Group, to explore its options.

“We will be reaching out to potential strategic partners and financial growth-oriented-type potential partners as soon as today,” Michael Richter, managing director at GLC, told Brewbound.

Asked about a potential timeline for completing a transaction, Richter said “there’s really no ticking clock or any impetus for us to move super quickly.”

“From our perspective, what we’ve been hired to do is find a partner who can support these immediate near term and future growth initiatives,” he added.

Moving forward, GLC and Stienstra will seek opportunities and then present them to Melvin’s board of directors, which will ultimately decide the company’s future direction.

Melvin’s board of directors is led by Zander Doroski, an independent private equity investor, Richter said. Doroski also sits on the board of advisors for Seattle-based private equity firm Westward Partners, and previously worked as a director of Paul Allen’s family office, Vulcan, from 2002-2013, including legacy investments in the Seattle Seahawks, the Portland Trailblazers, Dreamworks, Oxygen Network and Sporting News, according to a bio on the firm’s website.

The board also includes Melvin co-founder Jeremy Tofte, who is no longer involved in the daily operations of the brewery, Richter said.

Stienstra said he views the potential of Melvin as a destination brewery and pub as “a marketer’s dream,” with the opportunity to reach outdoor lifestyle enthusiasts in Alpine, near Jackson Hole Resort, Teton National Park, and Yellowstone National Park.

“As a marketer, the brand has obviously done an incredible job of cutting through the clutter, and I haven’t seen too many brands from a state like Wyoming, or out of state, that can compete in California or Colorado the way it does,” he said.

In announcing its intentions to explore a potential sale or take on additional investors, Melvin said it recently “completed an oversubscribed capital raise” with existing company shareholders in order “to keep pace with the ongoing and increasing demand for Melvin Brewing’s products.” Details of that raise were not disclosed.

The proceeds of the capital coupled with the potential addition of a strategic partner will allow Melvin “to accelerate immediate growth goals including brewery and pub upgrades, expansion of current on-premise sales channel partners, increasing market share in existing western markets, and entering new geographies.”

“We are tremendously excited to have the opportunity to support Melvin’s next phase of growth in seeking a strategic partner to deepen the company’s penetration in existing markets while also accelerating expansion in surrounding markets while also increasing their ability to efficiently service a fast-growing restaurant/pub partner,” Richter said in a press release issued today. “Our M&A team’s proven ability to achieve great outcomes for consumer products – and specifically – food and beverage companies in prior transactions is the perfect fit to Melvin’s ambitious pursuit of growth and success.”

Richter told Brewbound that Melvin has a partnership to brew beer for a fast-growing restaurant and pub but needs a little help to meet its growth initiatives. He declined to name the restaurant.

Melvin Brewing CEO Frank Magazine added in the release that the brewery is preparing for its “next phase of growth.”

“We are seeking a business partner that understands and embraces our culture and beliefs while supporting our vision to turn our Alpine Mothership into a fully developed destination brewery and to introduce Melvin brands and madness to an expanded customer base,” he said.

In 2021, Melvin produced an estimated 23,500 barrels of beer, a +1% increase year-over-year, according to the Brewers Association. The 13-year-old craft brewery, which was founded by Jeremy Tofte and Kirk McHale, built a reputation as an IPA brewery and was once one of the fastest growing craft breweries in the U.S., increasing production from 7,896 barrels in 2016 to 19,868 barrels in 2017 and 22,665 barrels in 2018. Production declined -6%, to 21,348 barrels, in 2019 before bouncing back to 23,173 barrels in 2020.

The company made a raucous scene during the 2017 Great American Beer Festival, inside and outside of the Denver Convention Center. A company branded sprinter van towing a brass band with a person in an elephant costume dancing with Melvin staffers. During each GABF session, a DJ spun rap, hip-hop and rock tunes at Melvin’s table, drawing some of the largest crowds throughout the weekend.

Later that year, McHale was accused of groping a server at Menace Brewing in Bellingham, Washington. The incident was detailed in a January 2018 memo outlining corrective actions for McHale and noting the implementation of a more comprehensive sexual and other harassment policy for all employees. Tofte issued an apology in a post on Melvin’s site.

Melvin, which had opened an outpost in Bellingham in 2017, eventually closed that space in 2019.

In June 2020, Melvin restructured its leadership team, with Magazine joining as CEO.

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