Members who enjoyed last month's domestic features from the Lost Coast Brewery may recall the fact that their head brewer was inspired to start her northern California brewpub after hearing of the first brewpub opening in California—that brewpub was Mondocino Brewing Company's "The Hopland Brewery" located in, where else, Hopland, CA. Truly one of the pioneering 'microbreweries', key to the microbrewed beer renaissance, the opening of this brewpub on August 14, 1983, was a red letter date in U.S. brewing history. It was the first brewpub in California since Prohibition, and only the second in the U.S. In those days, people made the pilgrimage from all around the country to visit the little brewpub in northern California that brewed some of the country's best beers. By 1997, there were 780 brewpubs in the United States; these guys laid the foundation for many of those.
Very quickly, the brewing operation grew. Demand for their flagship beer, Red Tail Ale, and other raptor-themed ales continued to swell to the point where their original brewpub, though expanded in brewing capacity multiple times through the years, could no longer keep up with demand. In 1997, the company underwent major investment and expansion, leading to the building of their Ukiah, CA brewery and bringing the historic Olde Saratoga Brewing Company in New York into the fold as an east coast brewing base for their expanding beer line. To put things in perspective, consider that the Ukiah brewery currently operates at a capacity of about 60,000 barrels per year, while the original Hopland Brewery pumped out just 400 barrels in its first year.
It used to be that beer lovers had to trek thousands of miles for these great beers, but these days, it's a bit easier—California's first brewpub beers are currently available in 38 states.
We highly recommend a visit to their classic Hopland Brewpub in Hopland, CA, located about 110 miles north of San Francisco. While they no longer serve food there, they've made arrangements for local restaurants to deliver right to your table as you enjoy fresh beer. For hours, call (707) 744-1361. For more info about MBC, visit their web site at www.mendobrew.com.