Mendocino Brewing Co., which has a direct link to the beginning of the American craft beer movement, will close its California taproom Saturday and the future of the brewery is in doubt.
Originally located in Hopland and later relocated to Ukiah, the taproom was the first brewpub to open in California and second in the United States after Prohibition. Some of the brewery’s equipment came from New Albion, the first post-Prohibition purpose-built microbrewery.
The closing comes as Mendocino Brewing is in discussion with an investor to help rescue the company, said Michael Laybourn, brewery co-founder who is still a board member. Its Ukiah brewery is located about a half-mile away from the taproom. “If it happens in the right way, he will save the company,” Laybourn said of the investor, which he did not name but said was from Northern California.
The brewery, which opened in 1983, has struggled recently under its chairman and indirect majority shareholder, Vijay Mallya, who bought the company in 1997. Mallya resides in London and is fighting extradition to India on charges of fraud and money laundering, according to news reports.