It was January 2018, and after nearly 32 years, master brewer Keith Villa decided it was time to retire from what’s now called Molson Coors Brewing Company. At 55, he’d reached the age where he could leave with a full pension and benefits. “Besides,” he says, “I’d done everything I wanted to do in alcohol.”
It’s a typical understatement from the man who transformed the American brewing landscape and whose resumé only serves to highlight his modesty. In 1999, the mega-macrobrewery, then Coors Brewing Company, tasked Villa with reformulating what’s now called Coors Banquet, one of its flagships inspired by the first beer Adolph Coors made upon opening his namesake Golden brewery in 1873. Villa also helped the global conglomerate launch several groundbreaking products, including Batch 19, a pre-Prohibition-style lager; Aspen Edge, an early low-carb beer; and Blue Moon Pumpkin Ale, one of the first nationally available pumpkin beers. But it was Villa’s invention of the original Blue Moon Belgian White in 1995 that was truly visionary.