News Fire Strikes Two Breweries – One Fatal Killing Owner-Brewer Ray McNeill

Tragedy has struck the craft brewing industry. Fire tore through McNeill’s Brewery Friday night, a longtime fixture in Brattleboro, Vermont, killing founder and owner Ray McNeill who lived in the buildings upstairs apartment. Another fire caused significant damage to Local Brewing in San Francisco early Saturday morning. There were no injuries reported in that incident.

McNeill’s Brewery has been shut down during the pandemic and Ray was in the process of completing some structural repairs to the building before re-opening. He reportedly intended to open the brewery back up next year.

The building that McNeill’s was housed in was constructed in 1892 and was originally a fire station. Ray moved his brewpub there from another location in 1990 and it became a popular hub of live entertainment in the early days of the craft brewing industry.

A remembrance of Ray McNeill by Andy Crouch at All About Beer here.

Although Local Brewing was not directly hit by the San Francisco fire, the fire above on an upper floor caused extensive damage to the brewery. “Most of our brewing equipment is fine, however, the water damage is extensive throughout our space,” the company said on Instagram. “Due to the current lack of structural integrity, the City has red-tagged the building – meaning the power has been shut off and we’re not able to enter or use the space in any capacity until it’s been thoroughly investigated and repaired, which could be several months – very possibly longer.”

“At around 1am on Dec 3, a fire broke out on the second floor of our historic building at 63/69 Bluxome Street in SF.Our lower floor brewery section of the building has fire monitoring which helped alert the SFFD.The building was constructed in 1912 with a timber frame, so the fire, which apparently started toward the back of the building on the second floor, quickly escalated to a 2-alarm fire and ripped through the top floor — getting so hot at the point of origination that the roof collapsed.”

A GoFundMe account has been set up and can be accessed here to help Local Brewing get back in business.

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