Hold onto your Steelhead. The Yurok Agricultural Corporation, which is owned by the Yurok Tribe, announced today it’s in the process of purchasing the 30-year-old Mad River Brewing and its taproom and restaurant. This will make the Yurok Tribe one of the few tribes in the U.S. to own and/or operate a brewing company, along with the Quapaw Tribe in Oklahoma, the Stillaguamish Tribe in Washington and the Rincon Band of Luiseno Indians in San Diego. The sale of the shareholder-owned company is expected to take some 60 to 90 days to complete.
Mad River Brewing's restaurant and taproom in Blue Lake.
The plan is for all the employees at Mad River Brewing — from restaurant servers and brewers to head brewer David Cook and CEO Richard Hanger himself — to stay. “Business will continue as normal and they’ll be part of the growth,” says Tribal member Linda Cooley.
The beer, too, will remain the same, along with the restaurant’s menu, so no need to start hoarding.
Hanger says, “Our recipes are tried and true, so certainly our core brands are going to remain,” adding, “Now we’ll have the opportunity to look at more seasonal type brews, not just in the taproom, but bottling them and getting them out to the public.” Above all, he says he’s excited about “the commitment to keeping the existing employees and that foundation and to grow from there."
According to Cooley, whose title is yet to be determined but who will be working on sales and marketing for the brewery, the conversation with the ownership of the local beer stalwart started a couple months ago, when the company approached the tribe looking for “the right buyer and the right experience.”
Cooley herself has a background in beer, having started out with beer distributor North Coast Mercantile “on my 21st birthday.” She then worked at Eel River Brewing Co. before returning to work for the Yurok Tribe in tourism, sales and business development related to opening the visitor’s center and the canoe project at Redwood Hotel Casino.
While he couldn’t share the price of the sale, Hanger says the company is in good shape overall. “You know, any business experiences the ebbs and flows of the marketplace. I don’t think we’re any different from any other business on the North Coast. We tightened our belts when we needed to and let them out a notch when we could.” He also noted that the company had a strong summer.
In a press release, Tuekwe George, CEO of the Yurok Agricultural Corporation, is quoted as saying the purchase is an opportunity to “share the passion for craft beer and exercise our economic sovereignty in this purchase of this dynamic business.”
The release also points out that its mission of environmental stewardship dovetails with MRB’s “environmentally friendly record in waste reduction, including the win of seven Waste Reduction Awards Program honored by the California Integrated Waste Management Board. Mad River Brewing Company reports a waste reduction rate of 98 percent with much of the organic waste, 10 tons of spent barley malt and yeast a year used as feed to local livestock, or used as composting material.”
Cooley says the Yurok Tribe wants to expand on the brewery’s efforts to move forward with processes that are better for the environment.” She says, “We’re looking at everything. We’re looking at how to be greener.”
Read the full press release below.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 16, 2019
Yurok Agricultural Corporation to Purchase Mad River Brewing Company Klamath, California
Today, the Yurok Agricultural Corporation announced the signing of an agreement to purchase the Mad River Brewing Company, Tap Room and family friendly restaurant. The Yurok Agricultural Corporation is a wholly owned corporation of the Yurok Tribe, the largest tribe in California. The purchase of this niche market business seeks to diversify the tribal economic portfolio in order to benefit the economic sovereignty of the region. “Mad River Brewing Company has been brewing quality craft beer since 1989. Under this new ownership we will modernize our plant and develop new markets while maintaining the important relationships we have developed with our employees and the community. We look forward to brewing our award-winning ales with the same passion for another thirty years” stated Richard Hanger, CEO for Mad River Brewery.
Mad River’s flagship, Steelhead Extra Pale Ale and their other award- winning brews have become renowned nationwide for their unique flavor profile and consistent quality through dedication to the breweries mission, “to produce the highest quality craft beer possible”. Mad River announced no delay in production and normal business for the restaurant, tap room and distribution.
“We intend to lead the way for Tribal enterprises who also share the passion for craft beer and exercise our economic sovereignty in this purchase of this dynamic business” said Tuekwe George, CEO, Yurok Agricultural Corporation.
“Mad River Brewery’s story and mission is exactly what we have been looking for in a business. Practicing the most traditional brewing methods for almost three decades, giving you the Northern California experience every time you raise your glass. We intend to expand this tremendous brand, lead with quality and share with the world.” added Frankie Myers, President, Yurok Agricultural Corporation.
The Yurok Agricultural Corporation considered Mad River Brewing Company’s environmentally friendly record in waste reduction , including the win of 7 Waste Reduction Awards Program honored by the California Integrated Waste Management Board. Mad River Brewing Company reports a waste reduction rate of 98 percent with much of the organic waste, ten tons of spent
barley malt and yeast a year used as feed to local livestock, or used as composting material. “This perfectly aligns with the Yurok Agriculture Corporation’s vision of holistic business operations, and the Yurok Tribe’s dedication to its role as a protective steward of the environment, Tribal ancestral lands and the Klamath River” stated Toby Vanlandingham, Board Member, Yurok Agricultural Corporation. For more information regarding the Mad River Brewery, visit the website at https://www.madriverbrewing.com/ or visit at 101 Taylor Way, Blue
Lake, California 95525.
About Mad River:
Located in Humboldt County, California Mad River Brewing Company has been practicing the most traditional brewing methods for 27 years. Mad River’s flagship, Steelhead Extra Pale Ale and their other award winning brews have become renowned nationwide for their unique flavor profile and consistent quality through dedication to the breweries mission, “to produce the highest quality craft beer possible”. Now in their third decade, they continue to pursue outstanding ales which transcend boundaries and expand the art of brewing.