Speakeasy Ales & Lagers, a 1997-founded craft brewery and taproom in the Bayview-Hunters Point area of San Francisco, is shutting down indefinitely according to an announcement from the business that cited outstanding debt obligations.
On tap across the region and available in cans and bottles, Speakeasy's beers like Big Daddy IPA, Payback Porter, Baby Daddy Session IPA, and the eminently quaffable Metropolis Pale Lager made the brewery one of the most recognized in the region. Speakeasy boasted 30 West Coast distributors and, as of 2011, a tasting room at 1195 Evans Avenue,a tucked-away wood-paneled barroom in an industrial park, that is also closed.
In 2015, Speakeasy, which employed 40 people, undertook a major expansion with a new 60-barrel brewhouse capable of a 90,000 barrels per year. That may have presented a financial risk, reading between the lines of a statement from the company:
Speakeasy Ales & Lagers has been forced to immediately cease brewing, packaging, and tap room operations at their San Francisco brewery for an indefinite period of time. Difficulty securing capital investment and outstanding debt obligations led to this difficult and painful decision. The company’s primary creditor will determine the future of the brewery and brand, and no decision or further information is available at this time.
According to Speakeasy founder and CEO, Forest Gray, “The brewery has worked with multiple investment banking groups and have had numerous meetings. One fact has become central to the process, and that is the company is financially insolvent and requires new capital to move forward. Whether that will happen is unclear, but I do hope the brewery and brand will persist.”
Speakeasy would like to thank all of the wonderful customers, distributors, vendors, and retail partners who have supported the brewery, as well as current and former staff for their hard work and dedication. The remaining inventory of Speakeasy Ales & Lagers beer has been shipped to distributors and will be available in local and international markets while supplies last. Grab a six-pack of Big Daddy IPA or any other Speakeasy beer to savor the history of this pioneering brewery.
Speakeasy's 1920s, prohibition-era theme and branding, with illustrations of cigar-chomping mobsters and femmes fatales on its labels, adds an unfortunate irony to the shut down. The name for the brewery's most recent beer release, Murky Business American Pale Ale, isn't aging well, for example, although it's possible that it's a dope and brilliant troll regarding creditors.
Notes of pineapple, grapefruit, papaya, and lychee dominate Murky Business APA, our first new release of 2017. https://t.co/sByEe2Ut3R pic.twitter.com/bcybQGBADV— Speakeasy Beer (@SpeakeasyBeer) March 7, 2017
As beer booms across the US and the number of small beer operations in cities like San Francisco returns to pre-prohibition heights, some brewpubs and distribution brewers have found themselves squeezed during expansions. Magnolia Brewing, a pioneering craft beer company in San Francisco, found itself filing for bankruptcy after expanding to the Dogpatch. It's now started to can and distribute its english-style ales, previously only available by the keg or the growler.
Last, the Bayview won't be left completely without craft beer: Laughing Monk Brewing, a small-batch Belgian beer brewer in the neighborhood, opened in 2014.
Related: Magnolia Brewing Files For Bankruptcy, Promises Business As Usual