In 2008, Ben Parsons opened an urban winery in a converted Quonset hut in a back alley in Denver, CO, and set out on a mission to craft ridiculously good wine without any pretense. In 2012, The Infinite Monkey Theorem became just the second winery in the United States to put its wine in a can. This year, with the help of strong partnerships with Ball Corporation and Wild Goose Canning, The Infinite Monkey Theorem will can 30,000 cases of wine and ship to 42 states.

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A Colorado Collaboration

Business partnerships can be the key to unlocking innovation. And when leaders from diverse industry sectors come together, the outcomes can be transformative. CO:BUILT explores the collaborative nature of discovery by looking at relationships that began with a need for invention and have resulted in the development of new processes, products and partnerships.
The wine industry is 4500 years old. There's only one industry that's older than that...and I think we know what that is... Ben Parsons / The Infinite Monkey Theroem

“It became clear that we were only going to go somewhere if we were willing to differentiate. There are over a million brands competing for shelf space,” Parsons explains. “So alternate packaging started to make a lot of sense. Kegs, tap wine, and cans.”

We loved Oksar Blues, we always have...I still drink their beer. Ben parsons / the infinite monkey theorem
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We wanted to support not only the craft beer industry… but we also wanted to help support Colorado as well. John Hayes / Ball Corporation
You're willing to break out of your comfort zone in the same way that some of these producers were willing to break out of theirs, and be successful and take these risks. Roger Walz / Wild Goose Canning

“The market for wine in cans has been slower to react than it has for canned craft beer. Maybe because canned beer in general was more familiar,” notes Walz. “Is it a risk? One might say it is, but I’m a firm believer that risk is important. If you’re not taking risks, you’re not learning.”

The Ball Corporation produces over 100 million cans per day in the United States alone.

The question and the internal debates about putting resources toward some of these new markets and new opportunities is not a light one. John Hayes / Ball Corporation

“Taking risks is part of business. What Ben is learning is what Dale learned a long time ago. As Ben puts quality wine in a can, he’s changing perceptions,” says Hayes. “So when Ben comes to you and asks, ‘How do you scale me up with wine’ – it opens your mind to a different way of thinking.”

Everyone thought we were crazy to put wine in a can, and only this year I would say, has it started to be recognized and the growth has been very significant... Ben Parsons / The Infinite monkey theorem
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Certainly, I think it was easier for people to accept craft beer in a can than it has been for some people to accept good wine in a can... Roger Walz / Wild goose canning
Ball introduced us to Wild Goose up in Boulder...which is great because it's 26 miles from where the product is packaged. -Ben Parsons / The Infinite Monkey Theorem

“The Wild Goose guys are definitely beer guys. I think maybe they’ve had a few glasses of wine in their life,” Parsons says. “But really, they are a bunch of engineers. They solve problems. There were unique challenges to creating a line for canning wine. They did a great job. It’s been a really good relationship. Happy to have them around, really.”

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Proximity's important...I think this is symptomatic of the Colorado lifestyle as well. Relationships still matter in business. John Hayes / Ball Corporation
The Infinite Monkey Theorem makes and cans their wine in a 15,000 square foot urban winery in Denver’s RiNo Art District, 26 miles from Wild Goose Canning’s operations in Boulder, CO and 14 miles from Ball Corporation’s global headquarters in Broomfield, CO.
Colorado is a great place...it's the only place the first Infinite Monkey Theorem could have succeeded. Ben Parsons / The Infinite Monkey Theorem

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A Colorado Collaboration

  • Ball Corporation: With a $200 loan from their Uncle George, five brothers founded what would become the Ball Corporation in Buffalo, NY, in 1880. In 1884, the brothers began making glass home-canning jars, the product that established Ball as a household name. Although Ball no longer produces glass jars, in 1969 they began manufacturing aluminum cans. Today, Ball is the world’s largest producer of metal beverage cans and operates nearly 60 manufacturing facilities worldwide in countries spanning Argentina and Brazil to France and Poland. Ball is headquartered in Broomfield, CO. Their first aluminum beverage packaging facility is in Golden, CO, and remains in operation today.
  • Wild Goose Canning: It all started with 5-cans-a-minute, a brewer who needed a little help, a couple of beers and two engineers with a big vision. In 2009, Wild Goose Engineering was tapped by then neighbor Upslope Brewing Company to build a mobile canning line. In 2011, Wild Goose premiered their first system at the nationally renowned Craft Brewers Conference and helped birth the mobile canning industry. Wild Goose Canning lines are manufactured entirely at their Boulder, Colorado headquarters and can be found in service today canning beer, wine, water and spirits in countries around the world including the U.S., Australia, Canada, the U.K., and soon to be in Tasmania.
  • The Infinite Monkey Theorem: IMT opened their doors in a Quonset hut in Denver’s Art District on Santa Fe in 2008. Today, IMT makes their wine in a 15,000 square foot urban winery in the River North Art District of Denver. Under the principles of, “No vineyards, no pretense,” IMT Founder and Winemaker, Ben Parsons, kegs and cans his high-quality wines, which are produced predominantly from grapes sourced from Colorado’s Western Slope. In 2015, IMT will produce 30,000 cases of wine in cans, shipping to 42 states, and will open a second location on South Congress Avenue in Austin, TX.
The images and video experienced here are the work of Chris Haugen – Colorado photographer, videographer and founder of Free Lunch Creative – shot in special collaboration with Something Independent. This CO:BUILT story was also presented as a panel discussion at the 2015 COIN Summit, in collaboration with the Colorado Innovation Network.
CO:BUILT is a project of Something Independent.
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