Brewbound Podcast Episode 37: Keith Villa on Building Blue Moon and the Future of Cannabis Beer

More than two decades ago, Keith Villa sat in a room with Coors Brewing executives and glasses of a cloudy, Belgian-style white ale.

Some thought it smelled like lemon Pledge. Others thought the beer’s appearance would prevent consumers from buying it.

“They tasted it, and they did not like it,” he said. “And from that point forward, they tried to kill off Blue Moon.”

In hindsight, it’s probably a good thing Coors leadership — which had paid for Villa to earn his PhD in Belgium (at a cost of just $98 per year, at the time) — didn’t discontinue Blue Moon, because today it’s the largest craft brand in the country.

According to Villa — who recently joined the Brewbound Podcast to discuss his 32 years of brewing at MillerCoors, and his latest venture, Ceria Beverages — Coors executives tried to do away with the Blue Moon brand multiple times in the early days.

That forced him to get creative.

“So I created that orange slice garnish in 1997, because Blue Moon had been discontinued in quite a few places,” he said, noting that many grocery stores actually removed the product from their shelves because it wasn’t selling.

Villa’s experience of building a brand from the ground up, and finding unique ways to garner interest and support, is proving valuable in his latest venture, Ceria Beverages, a line of cannabis-infused beers.

“It is almost like rebirthing Blue Moon,” he said.

In episode 37 of the Brewbound Podcast, Villa discusses his days of brewing and selling the iconic Blue Moon brand, and shares his outlook for the future of cannabis-infused drinks.

Listen to episode 37 of the Brewbound Podcast above, as well as on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, Spotify, and Soundcloud. New episodes of the Brewbound Podcast, which is co-hosted by Chris Furnari and Justin Kendall, are published every Thursday.

Episode 38, featuring Steve Fechheimer, the CEO of New Belgium Brewing, will be released on Thursday, May 30.

For questions, comments or suggestions, please email podcast@brewbound.com.

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The Brewbound Podcast features interviews with beer industry executives and entrepreneurs, along with highlights and commentary from the weekly news. New episodes every Thursday.