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Speakeasy Ales & Lagers suddenly shuts down

The San Francisco-based brewery is financially insolvent, it announced on its website Friday.

Speakeasy ceases operations

Drink those glasses of Big Daddy, Prohibition and Scarlett while you can. In a message posted on the brewery’s website Friday, Speakeasy Ales & Lagers announced that it would immediately and indefinitely cease brewing, packaging and taproom operations at its San Francisco brewery.

The decision to shut down stemmed from outstanding debt obligations and difficulties securing capital investment, the message said.

“The brewery has worked with multiple investment banking groups and had numerous meetings,” Speakeasy founder and CEO Forest Gray said in the post. “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, which was founded in 1997, produced more than 35,000 barrels of beer last year and employs around 50 people, according to Speakeasy media director Brian Stechschulte. In 2015, the brewery announced a major expansion project that would increase its annual production capacity to 90,000 barrels. Included in the plan was the installation of a 60-barrel brewhouse, eight 300-barrel fermenters, a new lab, a centrifuge, and new canning and kegging lines.

“It’s pretty devastating for everybody,” Stechschulte says. “This certainly isn’t where we want to be, but we just weren’t able to secure enough capital to keep the operation going.”

Speakeasy’s primary creditor—the controller of the brewery’s destiny, at this point—hasn’t yet communicated what it wants to do with the brewery, Stechschulte says. Speakeasy’s principals will meet with the creditor to determine the future of the brewery and brand on Monday.

Speakeasy is the second brewery to announce its closure this week, joining Orange County’s Valiant Brewing. Its remaining beer inventory is currently with distributors and will be available in local and international markets while it lasts.


Zach Fowle is DRAFT's beer editor. Reach him at

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