Bert Grant’s Real Ales will no longer be brewed in Yakima, Wash., where Yakima Brewing and Malting Co. founder Bert Grant established America’s first post-Prohibition brewpub in 1982.
Financially troubled Yakima Brewing announced it is moving production to unspecified breweries in the Southeast, West Coast and Northeast, apparently brewing only under contract.
“The decision to close the brewery was a tough one psychologically, but financially it was really easy to make,” said Paul Brown, vice president of operations for the company.
Brown said the move will cut production costs by as much as 50% and will help reduce distribution costs by as much at 30%. “Right now, it’s killing our distributors to ship beer from Yakima to, say, Florida,” he said. Brown said the new facilities’ locations were chosen because they are close to the company’s major distributors, but he declined to provide specific locations.
After initial success with his downtown brewpub, the pioneering Bert Grant built his 20,000-square-foot brewery in 1990 to meet growing demand. Grant, who died in 2001, sold the business in 1995 to Stimson Lane Vineyards & Estates, which later became Ste. Michelle Wine Estates. Brown and J. Gregory Tranum purchased the brewery in 2001.
In 2003, Yakima Brewing fell behind on its payments and avoided foreclosure by giving its plant, property and equipment back and entering a lease agreement Dec. 1, 2003, allowing continued operations.
Shortly after giving back the brewery, the company touted a highly publicized stock offering of up to 500,000 shares. But that was halted when an investigation by the state Department of Financial Institutions found Brown and Tranum allegedly deceived investors and broke security laws.
Last year, the company’s Grant’s Brewery Pub was evicted from its longtime home at the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway Co.’s depot at 32 N. Front St. for owing unpaid rent and other costs. The pub moved to another location, which continues to operate.
Yakima Brewing was back in court earlier this year. The company owed $34,650 in back rent and penalties for its brewery. It was served a “pay rent or vacate” notice in July. Brown said the decision to close the brewing facility was not a result of the recent threat of eviction.