News Mendocino & Saratoga Brewing Shut Down

Discussion in 'Beer News & Releases' started by EnronCFO, Jan 17, 2018.

  1. EnronCFO

    EnronCFO Devotee (490) Mar 29, 2007 Massachusetts

    Sounds like a liquidation rather than a bankruptcy if contract brewers had to reclaim their supplies in a matter of hours. Not many realized that Mendocino had been in default for years and was actually owned by an Indian conglomerate whose owner was on the run. Guess the lenders finally called in the loan. Saratoga has been a major contract player for years, but not sure how many breweries still used them.
  2. mmmbeerNY

    mmmbeerNY Devotee (407) Mar 5, 2014 New York

    Their beer was not special, but was a cheap place to taste some beers on tap and they usually had some bottles on sale if you wanted an inexpensive case.

    Hopefully something good goes in, although location in the town does not add any value, just a building on boring street
    tolar111 likes this.
  3. SunDevilBeer

    SunDevilBeer Zealot (599) May 9, 2003 Massachusetts

    Perhaps @jesskidden can add some details here regarding the demise? I could never keep up with whose beer they were contracting.

    The Mendocino beers coming out of that facility in the mid-00’s were pretty decent. Red Tail & Blue Heron were solid & a value during a big price creep during the late 00’s.

    I had no idea Wachusett was doing anything there, they have a pretty impressive brewing operation in MA.
  4. jesskidden

    jesskidden Meyvn (1,326) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey

    Heineken now owns more of Vijay Mallya's United Breweries than the founder does, and speculation in the financial world was always that Heineken would eventually take it over, one way or another. (It's always been unclear if Mendocino was owned through UB or by Mallya individually).

    From an Indian business journal last summer:
  5. EnronCFO

    EnronCFO Devotee (490) Mar 29, 2007 Massachusetts

    Yeah, the Mendocino filings are pretty messy, but I believe Mallya was the primary owner, or at least in control. The only valuable asset was Kingfisher US production.
  6. EnronCFO

    EnronCFO Devotee (490) Mar 29, 2007 Massachusetts

    Whole bunch of new condo buildings over there now.
    mmmbeerNY and tolar111 like this.
  7. jesskidden

    jesskidden Meyvn (1,326) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey

    Yeah, it's a head-spinning mess - esp. if one's not fluent in Wall Street-ese. Take this "explanation" from the India Times in '16 for example:

    It should be noted that the original Mendocino Brewing Co. in Hopland (which was featured in one of those old M. Jackson Beer Hunter videos, IIRC, during an Anchor employee trip to the hop harvest ) had pretty direct ties to the first new "craft/micro brewery" in the US, The New Albion Brewing Co.

    From The Mercury Times a year ago:
    Edit- Just remembered another video of Jack McAuliffe from a few years back (maybe around the time when BBC briefly revived New Albion Ale?) at a Mendocino facility being shown the original New Albion Brewing Co. wooden sign they still displayed.
    #7 jesskidden, Jan 17, 2018
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2018
  8. EnronCFO

    EnronCFO Devotee (490) Mar 29, 2007 Massachusetts

    Try reading the 8-k's. New promissory notes rolling every 6 months and in default on all of them. An absolute mess.
  9. Immortale25

    Immortale25 Poo-Bah (3,010) May 13, 2011 North Carolina

    You may recall the Mendocino Brewing part correctly, that I can't remember, but it was actually the barley harvest they were attending.
  10. spicoli00

    spicoli00 Zealot (584) Jul 6, 2005 Indiana

    Technically, Chapter 7 bankruptcy is a liquidation versus Chapter 11/13 reorganizations.

    sounds like they already tried to do the Chapter 11/13 and it didn't work.

    Being one of the earlier craft breweries, i can remember drinking plenty of their offerings in the 90's and thinking they were pretty good. but, i probably haven't had one of their beers in 20 years.

    Indirect majority shareholder means there an another entity/entities in between UBHL and MCB if you were to look at the organization chart. Holding companies will often setup various types of entities to shield from risks like bankruptcy or to keep assets of the balance sheet, so called special purpose entities/vehicles.
    drtth likes this.
  11. EnronCFO

    EnronCFO Devotee (490) Mar 29, 2007 Massachusetts

    Correct, I originally wrote restructuring and then changed it. Separating work life from beer life can be hard.
    beertunes likes this.
  12. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Meyvn (1,378) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan

    In an interview Jack said he didn’t stay long, as he wasn’t used to being a “deck hand”.

    There is a New Albion sign above the back bar at Russian River. Is that the same one?
    Bitterbill likes this.
  13. jesskidden

    jesskidden Meyvn (1,326) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey

    No, I got that one wrong, too. :grin: It was the Napa Valley Brewing Co. they visited during the barley harvest, starts around the 3 minute mark.

    Yeah, well, I knew it was one of them California breweries that had the sign...:astonished:

    (I'm quittin' for the day...)
  14. bsullivan

    bsullivan Initiate (57) Aug 17, 2017 Connecticut

    I went to college in Saratoga and probably went to the brewery upwards of 25 times, will miss them when I go back.
    EnronCFO likes this.
  15. NeroFiddled

    NeroFiddled Poo-Bah (9,927) Jul 8, 2002 Pennsylvania

    Hmmmm... :thinking_face: I was going to say I wouldn't miss them. They had some decent beers, and some just OK beers (Eye of The Hawk), but I don't think there was anything special enough there to warrant me missing them. And they didn't keep up with the market. I might have a twinge of nostalgia for them (I'm also thinking of Grant's Ales), but overall I probably wouldn't buy the beer unless it was on special, there are just too many better beers out there. Besides, given that they're owned, and have been for some time, by someone who's part of a conglomerate that's probably - most likely - only interested in profit, there's not much of a story there. No charm. They've been dead since they were taken over. Still, RIP.
    Bitterbill likes this.
  16. mmmbeerNY

    mmmbeerNY Devotee (407) Mar 5, 2014 New York

    Interesting, it has been over a year since I was there and not that familiar with town really, just knew it was not close the main strip of restaurants/bars/shops. Not that that is deal breaker, but there was not a view from bar or other stuff next door to draw you there like there is someplaces
  17. mmmbeerNY

    mmmbeerNY Devotee (407) Mar 5, 2014 New York

    Agree, I don't really see any reason to miss them or the many other breweries that I guess will disappear as the places that sell average beer without a secondary draw struggle since there are so many choices. I like some variety but honestly when I go to big beer stores these days I'm starting to wish there were less US craft beer on shelves of certainly styles as certainly can not drink it all, and hardly can keep track of all the names
  18. John_M

    John_M Moderator (6,172) Oct 25, 2003 Oregon

    I agree with most of your post, which I think is largely dead on. Personally, I think it's a shame, as there was a time when Mendocino brewing was really a pretty big deal out West. I think I first tried Red Tail ale in the late 80's at the recommendation of a Los Gatos liquor store employee (who was giddy with excitement over their ability to obtain the beer), and thought it flat out fabulous. Their yearly anniversary parties were legendary, and back in the day, that was the only time you could obtain Eye of the Hawk (which initially was a draft only beer as I recall). They used to have a male and female keg toss competition that was hilarious (my back has never really recovered from the one year I entered the competition).

    I forget what led to the eventual sell out to Vijay Mallya (the Celebrator Newspaper had an article about the demise of the brewery as I recall), but I remember when I read the interview with him, it was pretty apparent the Mendocino brewing company as I'd known it was gone. It was clear he was only interested in money/profit, and interested only in producing Mendocino beer as cheaply as possible, and selling the beer for as much profit as possible. The difference in quality before and after the sell out was palpable, and I pretty much dropped red tail and eye of the hawk from my rotation after he took it over.

    In my mind, Mendocino brewing pretty much ceased to exist when Vijay took it over. So while it's something of a shame to see them go completely belly up, in my mind they've been dead for years.
    #18 John_M, Jan 17, 2018
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2018
  19. spicoli00

    spicoli00 Zealot (584) Jul 6, 2005 Indiana

    i'm just being a pedant:wink:
  20. beertunes

    beertunes Poo-Bah (5,451) Sep 24, 2007 Washington

    I seem to remember buying their stuff at Beers of the World in Rochester NY in the early-mid 90's, and really enjoying it. Would generally grab one of their offerings. Now, it's likely been 10 years since I've had one of their beers, and almost that long since I've thought about them. I'm sad to see them go, but, can't say I'll really miss them.
  21. rousee

    rousee Meyvn (1,022) Aug 13, 2004 Massachusetts

    I've been going to Saratoga every Summer for the last 20 years or so and never went there even though I usually buy my beer across the street at EBI. I do remember Red Tail way back when as others have mentioned but just never felt the desire to go to the actual brewery. No doubt something will go into the space as Saratoga does seem to be adding new hotels and such every year.
  22. EnronCFO

    EnronCFO Devotee (490) Mar 29, 2007 Massachusetts

    Horse fan, I assume?
    rousee likes this.
  23. John_Atria

    John_Atria Initiate (0) Feb 17, 2014 California

    I live in Mendocino County where Mendocino Brewing is located. Honestly, I am not sad to see them go. the one beer they had that I liked was Eye of the Hawk, but most of the stuff they sold was bland, uninteresting swill. Both the label design and quality of the selection were nothing to write home about. Anderson Valley Brewing and North Coast Brewing I always thought had a superior product compared to this pathetic, sad looking brewery. I would love to see someone start a better brewery here.
  24. cavedave

    cavedave Poo-Bah (2,429) Mar 12, 2009 New York

    What a mess. Like others report, I haven't had a Mendocino beer in many years, and it was hard to keep track of what was being contracted at Saratoga. There were always rumors, and I guess those who follow the business pages had more than rumors, that this was coming. Always sad to see businesses fail in this state but I don't know anyone who will miss any of Saratoga's beer lineup. I have a feeling in the next ten years there will be a substantial list of other breweries going out of business here or moving out of NY.
    LeRose likes this.
  25. eldoctorador

    eldoctorador Zealot (526) Dec 12, 2014 California

    There are two Mendocino beers in the book "300 Beers to Try Before you Die" by Roger Protz

    Black Hawk Stout
    Blue Heron Pale Ale

    Honestly, some of the beers in the book would shock the people here in BA, but it was a nice introductory book and gift from my now wife. So I have it there, and still read it from time to time.
    muchloveforhops3 likes this.
  26. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,640) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    Michael (@TongoRad) with Saratoga Brewing Company closing I wonder where Braven Brewing Co. (e.g., Bushwick Pilsner) will be brewed. Have you heard anything in this regard?


    TongoRad likes this.
  27. jesskidden

    jesskidden Meyvn (1,326) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey

    From the linked article in the OP:
  28. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,640) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    JK, have you by any chance learned where Piels will be brewed? Was the Saratoga brewery a consideration for Piels?


    TEKNISHE Initiate (0) Jan 12, 2011 Pennsylvania

    That is funny! I was actually thinking of replying to the "Mt. Rushmore of Bad Beer" thread with anything by Mendocino Brewing. I drank a mixed case of theirs with all the birds on the labels back in the early 2000's. Perhaps my experience would differ these days, but sheez that was some lousy beer in that sampler.
    eldoctorador likes this.
  30. tobelerone

    tobelerone Poo-Bah (2,253) Dec 1, 2010 New York

    My wife and I stopped into the brewery (in Saratoga) maybe 5 years ago and we were shocked at how bad everything was. The beer was mediocre to flat out awful, numerous beers showing brewing flaws like excessive diacetyl, draft lines were clearly dirty, and the place reeked of cigarette smoke. When I went to the bathroom the 75ish bartender made some kind of lewd remark to my wife which I can't recall. Just laughably bad with no one in the place giving a crap about standards on any level.
  31. stevepat

    stevepat Disciple (329) Mar 12, 2013 California

    Eye of the Hawk is the beer that converted me, also they bottled a mix of Black Hawk stout (also a decent beer in my opinion) and Eye of the Hawk called Black Eye that was pretty tasty, strong, and cheap. I also really used to enjoy the tap room in Hopland, great vibe, super chill space. The folks running it now overcharge for beer that they obviously don't care much about and provide pretty terrible service in my limited experience.
  32. BSW

    BSW Aspirant (228) Jun 20, 2011 California

    Not to nit pick, but does the article the OP linked actually say Mendocino is closing? I'm local and there isn't anything in our paper (the tap room closure was covered a few days ago) and I can find anything on Google news.
  33. EnronCFO

    EnronCFO Devotee (490) Mar 29, 2007 Massachusetts

  34. jesskidden

    jesskidden Meyvn (1,326) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey

  35. BSW

    BSW Aspirant (228) Jun 20, 2011 California

  36. raynmoon

    raynmoon Crusader (776) Aug 13, 2011 Colorado

    If people we unsure about the bubble and whatnot... it's happening. It's a jungle out there. People want to make beer, but they're forced to make OJ in 16oz cans just to survive.

    I personally hope we get passed this 16oz-4-pack juice craze, because it's killing us all.
  37. TheGent

    TheGent Meyvn (1,294) Jun 29, 2010 New Jersey
    Premium Trader

    I remember reading about this brewery in some if not all of the "history of US craft beer" books that I've read.

    What was their position in the current marketplace? Are locals surprised by this?
  38. dbrauneis

    dbrauneis Site Editor (7,427) Dec 8, 2007 North Carolina
    Premium Trader

    meefmoff, TheGent and drtth like this.
  39. jesskidden

    jesskidden Meyvn (1,326) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey

    Both Mendocino and NY's Olde Saratoga (< see that thread for more info) were owned by the head of India's United Breweries*, so their US barrelage figures were typically combined.

    They've hovered between +60k - +80k barrels a year for the past decade, peaking in 2012 at 84,000 bbl. (est. - 44k = OS, 40k = Men.).

    They were down to 66k in 2016 - if * they were listed as a "Craft brewer" by the Brewers Association, that'd put them around #47 in the US.
  40. MostlyNorwegian

    MostlyNorwegian Devotee (494) Feb 5, 2013 Illinois

    Lol. The writing for older breweries who have held onto their legacy "success" by way of distributing outwards was pretty clearly established by way of the juice craze self distributed breweries. And also with so many other breweries who are not making juice craze beers, and who never will.
    That realization was plainly spelled out in Redhooks article the other day, and that is. These older breweries who are attempting to move product thousands of miles away from their home have forgotten who their original customers are. The one's who live where they do, and can be listened to.
    People like the 90s. Just not in their beer.