Sometime around late 1994 and early 1995 two friends, Tom Atmore and Bill Beeghly, were discussing new business ideas for Chico, CA. Since Chico was already the home of Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, one of America’s most successful craft breweries, the idea of starting another brewery seemed a natural. Soon afterwards, they brought Roland Allen, Sierra Nevada’s #2 brewer (or Brew Master), on board and an LLC was formed with the three as founders. Tom would handle the business operations, Bill the marketing and sales and, of course, Roland would be the master brewer.
After acquiring a lease-purchase on a former Miller beer distribution facility, the three started the process of getting licensed, raising money and building the brewery – Chico Brewing Company. During this process, Sierra Nevada claimed they had the trademark rights to using the name “Chico” in brewing. Rather than fighting “Goliath”, this young “David” decided to change the name to Butte Creek Brewing.
After the better part of a year, it was finally time to brew beer in May, 1996. The first two brands were Creekside Wheat, a partially filtered wheat ale and Roland’s Red, a celtic-style red ale; Roland’s signature beer. Since Butte Creek was waiting to acquire a used labeler from Deschutes Brewing Company both beers were initially only available in draft form. The first keg was delivered on June 20, 1996 and 12oz bottles came on line, in September, the same year. During 1997, the company introduced two seasonal beers with the extra pale Summer Gold Ale and the chocolaty Winter Ale. The popularity of the Summer Gold Ale caused the beer to become a year-round favorite and, starting in September 1997, was bottled and sold as Butte Creek Gold Ale. The Winter Ale remained a seasonal favorite and award winner for many years to come. In April, 1998 the company released a Spring Ale in draft only, primarily for local consumption.
On June 18, 1998 Butte Creek went “green” releasing its first organic beer: Summer Organic Ale. This 100% organic beer was a “blonde” ale designed for the hot summers in the north Sacramento Valley. This beer is considered to be one of America’s first organic beers. After the success of this summer draft-only offering the company decided to move more aggressively into the new organic beer market by releasing Butte Creek Organic Amber Ale for year-round production in 12 ounce bottles and draft. Also during 1998 Roland’s Red and the Winter Ale received medals (gold and silver, respectively) in the California Brewers festival. In 1999, Butte Creek expanded its organic line by adding an Organic Porter in 12 ounce bottles and draft. With the growing popularity of “all things organic”, the company experienced an expansion of its distribution base and began selling outside of California.
In March, 2001 we introduced what would become the largest seller in the organic line with the release of the Organic IPA. Originally, marketed with the slogan “go big or go home” the IPA was sold in draft and 22 ounce bottles instead of the more common 12 ounce size. However, for the time being, the Organic Ale remained the most popular variety comprising 39% of sales. Also, 2001 would see the first bottling of the spring ale and a 22 ounce version of the Christmas Cranberry Ale in a silk-screened collector’s edition. Our lease in Chico expired in 2009 and we moved our production to Ukiah, California to a larger facility.
On June 25, 2010, Mendocino Brewing Company, brewers of Red Tail Ale, acquired Butte Creek Brewing brands of organic ales and lagers. Mendocino Brewing CEO, Yashpal Singh, had this to say about the acquisition. “We’re proud to be the brewers of ‘The Official Beer of Planet Earth’. We fully endorse and will pursue Butte Creek’s mission. This acquisition blends perfectly with our own policy of brewing quality, full-bodied ales for the discerning beer lover.”
Mendocino Brewing Company is a pioneer in the American Craft Brewing Renaissance and has for over 25 years been brewing award winning range of ales in it's state of the art brewery located in Ukiah, California.
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