Deep Ellum Brewing Co. Was Sold to Monster Beverage Corp. Is it Still a Craft Brewery?

Deep Ellum Brewing Co. has been absorbed by Monster.
Deep Ellum Brewing Co. has been absorbed by Monster. Beth Rankin
CANarchy, the private equity firm that owns Deep Ellum Brewing Company (DEBC) along with a handful of other craft breweries around the U.S., announced last week that they have sold all their breweries to Monster Beverage Corp., the maker of the eponymous energy drink.

About 10 years ago, DEBC along with a handful of other local breweries like Peticolas, Lakewood Brewing, Community and Franconia, were the first in a wave of craft breweries that rumbled in beer-parched Dallas. Back then, drinkers couldn’t even buy a pint of beer at these breweries. The brewers banded together and, along with others around the state, pushed for changes at the legislative level. Now dozens of local breweries are flush with taps, trivia nights, courtyard yoga, Fourth of July barbecues, local shows and millions in calories from local food vendors.

All was well and good for DEBC until 2018 when then-owner John Reardon sold a majority of his ownership stake to CANarchy Brewing Collective in hopes of expanding the brand to new markets and collaborating with brewers he’d long respected.

The partnership between CANarchy and Reardon began to unravel almost immediately. Reardon filed a lawsuit over what he claimed were missed payments and what he thought were attempts to sabotage the beer’s brand. It was no surprise when CANarchy terminated Reardon from his own company in 2020.

On Jan. 13, Dallas learned that CANarchy will now sell its portfolio of small brewers to Monster in a $330 million cash deal that also includes Cigar City, Oskar Blues, Perrin Brewing, Squatters and Wasatch. According to co-CEO Hilton Schlosberg, the deal is a “springboard” for Monster into the alcoholic beverage market. Think Topo Chico Seltzer and Sonic Seltzers.

Yes. You may soon see a Monster alcoholic beverage.

“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 said in a statement.

Monster Beverage Corp. is a multi-billion-dollar company that is owned, in part, by Coca-Cola. So, is DEBC still a craft brewery? The Brewers Association tackled the issue shortly after the transaction was announced last week. They determined it is because of the terms of the agreement: “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.”

But, is it the same craft brewery it was 10 years ago? Let's put it this way, we reached out to CANarchy and DEBC about the sale and didn’t hear back from either. In our experience, usually, the brewery owners themselves respond to our inquiries. In the case of DEBC, we're not even sure who that would be. Tell the Monster we called.

Meanwhile, Reardon has bought an entire block of warehouse buildings about a block away from his old business for his new business, Deep Ellum Distillery. He's recently released a new beer and whisky to go along with his vodka, which he's been producing for more than a year now. 
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Lauren Drewes Daniels is the Dallas Observer's food editor. She started writing about local restaurants, chefs, beer and kouign-amanns in 2011. She's driven through two dirt devils and is certain they were both some type of cosmic force.