More Signs of a Slowdown: Bridgeport Makes Cuts; Branchline Files for Bankruptcy; Tin Man Brewing for Sale

Bridgeport Lays Off 13 Workers

BridgePort Brewing Co., one of Portland, Oregon’s original craft breweries, is reportedly laying off 13 brewing staff positions due to declining sales, according to a release from the brewery.

“We have resisted making job cuts for the longest possible time, but we can’t postpone this painful decision any longer,” brewmaster Jeff Edgerton said in a press release. “It is no secret that many legacy craft beer brewers have seen falling sales over the last few years Our own sales have fallen since their peak in 2011 forcing us to regrettably take action now. Oregon is a fiercely competitive market in which new microbreweries are launched practically every day. In addition, global beer companies continue to acquire and invest heavily in the local market.”

BridgePort, which was founded in 1984 and sold to Gambrinus in 1995, will instead refocus its attention to innovation, renovating its Pearl District brewpub by adding a new bar and a small-batch pilot brewing system in an effort to compete with smaller beer producers.

“The steps announced today mean that our beer production can take place in partnership with our customers,” Edgerton said in the release. “We will be producing a wider range of beer in smaller batches, which gets us closer to our micro-brewing roots.”

BridgePort plans to further remake its image by rebranding its existing beers with new bottles, labels and packaging. The company will also rollout a new marketing campaign with billboards, radio ads and tasting events around the city.

A similar move by fellow Portland-headquartered beermaker Craft Brew Alliance was made last October when that company laid off about a dozen production workers from its Woodinville, Wash. brewery. At the time, CBA attributed the downsizing to “softer-than-anticipated contract volumes.”

Much like Bridgeport, CBA also recently invested in smaller-batch brewing equipment via the construction of a new innovation brewery at its Widmer Brothers facility in Portland as well as a new Redhook brewpub in Seattle, Wash.

Branchline Brewing Co. Files for Bankruptcy

After four years, San Antonio-based Branchline Brewing Co. has filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, according to the San Antonio Express News.

The Brewer reportedly claimed assets of $50,000 and debts between $100,001 and $500,000 in a filing with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in San Antonio.

In February, the small brewer posted a note on Facebook saying it was “going through a restructure period” and closing its taproom on March 4.

“We don’t believe this is a good bye but rather a see you soon,” Branchline’s Facebook post stated. “We need some time to regroup and hopefully come back stronger, with that original fire that we once had.”

In an email to the Express-News, Branchline’s bankruptcy lawyer, Michael O’Connor, wrote that the company is seeking bankruptcy protection to “restructure its existing business production model to reduce operating costs so that its pre-bankruptcy creditors may be paid from the proceeds of its streamlined operations.” He added that the company would continue producing beer.

Among Branchline’s creditors are Accion Texas Inc., which is owed $139,000; Pinnacle Capital Partners of Tacoma, Washington, is owed $96,000; and the IRS is owed $50,000 in unpaid payroll taxes.

Tin Man Brewing for Sale

In last week’s edition of Press Clips, Brewbound noted that an unnamed “state-of-the-art Midwest brewery with real estate” was on the block for $2.4 million.

After the article was published, a number of Twitter users put on their detective hats and used clues from the listing in an attempt to identify the unnamed brewery. The marketplace listing said the brewery was capable of producing 10,000 barrels annually in a “state of the art 15,000+ sq. ft. building.” The listing also called out the company’s 190-seat restaurant, tasting room, barrel-aging cellar, warehouse and production brewery.

And thanks to the Chicago Tribune’s Josh Noel, the name of the brewery is no longer a mystery.

Tin Man Brewing, out of Evansville, Indiana, closed its restaurant and tasting room abruptly on March 19.

“It took us too long to figure out our tasting room/ restaurant/ brew pub dynamic and our production brewery has been burdened with the responsibility of keeping both aspects of the company open,” brewery founder Nick Davidson wrote on the company’s blog at the time of the shutdown. “We no longer have the resources to keep that relationship going and it’s with a heavy heart that we announce that we must close the tasting room.”

Tin Man is reportedly still brewing and selling packaged beer in Indiana, Kentucky and Tennessee. Meanwhile, Davidson is reportedly entertaining offers for an outright sale or seeking new investors to recapitalize the business.

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