Mergers and acquisitions continue to abound in the craft beer arena with Ninkasi Brewing announcing that they will merge with canned drinks producer Wings & Arrows to form Great Frontier Holdings.
Wings & Arrow was founded in 2011 and is a “brand house” that makes hard seltzer, hard lemonade, and canned cocktails. The portfolio includes Ashland Hard Seltzer, Mucho Aloha Hard Lemonade and Villager Spirits.
Josh Landan, the founder of Wings & Arrow also founded San Diego-based Saint Archer Brewing which he sold to Molson Coors in 2015. Landan will serve as CEO of Great Frontier and Jamie Floyd and Nikos Ridge of Ninkasi will take operational and leadership positions in the new company.
The merger will make Great Frontier the third largest independent alcohol producer in the West, when including contract brewing, according to accompany press release.
The deal will give Wings & Arrows a much larger distribution footprint by tying into the existing distribution network of Ninkasi. Ninkasi beers are currently distributed in eight Western states while Wings & Arrow products are sold in California and a few other scattered markets in the West.
The merger will also create greater efficiencies for Ninkasi by adding in the additional production and utilizing excess capacity. According to an article in Brewbound, production at Ninkasi has declined in recent years from a peak of 100,849 barrels in 2015 to about 64,000 barrels in 2021. Contract brewing now makes up a significant amount of their production.
In an era of slow to no growth in the craft beer segment, craft breweries of all sizes are looking at ways to increase efficiencies. Those breweries with excess capacity and a strong distribution network such as Ninkasi offer a valuable platform for both beer and non-beer alcohol beverage producers. Expect to see more mergers and acquisitions in coming months.