New Hampshire’s Smuttynose Brewing Company has said they are seeking an immediate buyer and if none is found they will be sold at bank auction March 9.
Founded in 1994, the company is a longtime well-known player in the craft brewing industry. Smuttynose owner Peter Egelston has been in the industry since 1986 when he joined his sister in opening the Northampton Brewery where Peter served as head brewer. In 1993, Peter purchased the bankrupt Frank Jones Brewing Company which he converted into Smuttynose.
The brewery has a capacity of 75,000 barrels a year, but was reportedly only producing about half of that.
Meanwhile on the West Coast, Mendocino Brewing Company, a pioneering craft brewery in California dating back to 1983, has closed it’s tap room near the production plant and may have ceased operations at the brewery as well. The company has been struggling for a number of years, with a big part of its production going to a variety of contract brewed beers. The Saratoga Brewery in Syracuse, NY, owned by the same ownership group, has also reportedly closed.
Mendocino Brewing was started by an ownership group that included Don Barkley, a brewer at the nation’s “first craft brewery from the ground up,” New Albion Brewing near the town of Sonoma, CA. Mendocino was also the fisrt brewpub in California and the second in the country. Controlling ownership in the company was purchased by Vijay Mallya nearly 30 years ago. Mallya, a wealthy businessman from India has recently been charged with money laundering and is fighting extradition back India.
These two announcements are both high profile and well-known breweries, but the pace of closures continues to quicken, mostly among small and relatively newer breweries. We are bound to see more closures ahead, as competition continues to heat up in the craft segment.