Wyoming’s Melvin Brewing is seeking a “strategic partner” to help “support and assist with current growth initiatives.” Involved sources tell CBD the roughly 30,000-barrel brewer seeks to dig deeper in its existing 20-state, Western-centric footprint. There’s also an interesting pub partner involved.
Banking advisory firm GLC Advisors & Co. and marketing strategist Ethan Stienstra of Ahead of the Curve, have been retained “to explore strategic alternatives available to the company, including the possible sale.”
CBD readers know industry vet Ethan from his work on everything from Blue Moon branding back in the day, to more recently, launching E-premise consulting firm, The E-Premise Group. GLC Advisors is a well-established banking advisory firm who has worked with everyone from Jamba Juice to The North Face.
We spoke to them this morning.
We asked how they’re defining “strategic” — does that mean a big brewer? A private equity firm involved with a brewer? Or anything?
“Yeah, I would say, yeah,” said GLC managing director Michael Richter. “Our focus will be on strategics, or other bigger brewers, or, you know, financial-type growth capital providers who can help with some of those [growth]
WHAT MAKES MELVIN ATTRACTIVE. “What’s super attractive about Melvin is… it’s a respected, powerful brand that has been able to cut throug
h the clutter,” Ethan said, relaying a recent conversation he’d had on the brand with a “top 30 craft brewer.”
“They’re very disruptive. To be able to compete in places like California and Colorado and not be from there is super impressive. And could be a really strategic brand for the certain right partner.”
Ethan praised “Melvin’s state-of-the-art brewing facility and pub” in Alpine, Wyoming near the town of Jackson, and National Parks Teton and Yellowstone National Park. “This location is a marketer’s dream with numerous opportunities for brand building and sampling with outdoor enthusiasts visiting from around the world.” The location is certainly desirable.
“If I were looking for a strategic brand for the Western U.S., they’d be a great fit,” he told CBD. That’s where the brewer does the majority of its volume.
GROWTH THROUGH THE PANDEMIC. Impressively, the company seems to have grown through the pandemic. Per New Brewer, the company did 23,173 barrels in 2020, up 9%, and 23,500 last year, up 1%. In fact, from 2018 to 2021, they’v
e only had one down year —in 2019, they were down 6%. Perhaps unsurprisingly, that came after allegations of misconduct at its Bellingham, Washington brewpub in 2018 (which opened in 2017). Melvin later sold that brewpub to new ownership in 2019, who rebranded the pub to 122 West Brewing. The company also had a San Diego brewery and restaurant that it closed at the start of 2020.
ACCELERATING GROWTH, DIGGING DEEPER INTO EXISTING MARKETS, AND NEW ONES. Back to today: The company announcement also revealed that Melvin “successfully completed an oversubscribed capital raise through the Company’s existing shareholder base.” But “establishing a strategic partnership” would 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.”
More specifically, GLC managing director Michael Richter says his Denver-based Middle Market M&A Team is seeking a strategic partner to specifically “deepen the Company’s penetration in existing markets while also accelerating expansion in surrounding markets while also increasing their ability to efficie
ntly service a fast-growing restaurant / pub partner.”
ON THE PUB PARTNER. We were curious about that pub partner. They’re unable to disclose who it is at this point, but Michael told CBD it’s a “fast-growing restaurant/pub partner that’s also growing quite quickly.” That partnership was established “pre-pandemic.”
MELVIN SPEAKS. The official announcement also had some insights from Frank Magazine, Melvin’s CEO since 2020. (Co-founder Jeremy Tofte is no longer involved in day-to-day brewery operations, but he is on the Board.)
“The culture of Melvin is based on living life passionately and keeping fun and a b
it of madness at the core of our brand, with beer as our business platform. Melvin Brewing is also about valuing our team; valuing our customers and valuing our brand,” said Frank.
“While experiencing strong growth over the COVID years, we are prepared to step forward into our next phase of gro
wth. 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.”
NOT THE LAST DEAL COLLAB FOR ETHAN AND MICHAEL. But in this craft milieu, expect Michael and Ethan to collaborate on more such projects.
“We got partnered with Ethan a few years ago,” says Michael, who
praised his knowledge of the industry.
“There’s just kind of a ripe opportunity for consolidation” at the moment, and the team has a passion for “helping founders-owners-entrepreneurs” strategically, “whether it’s raising capital, transitioning their business” or “selling and buying.”