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5 Small U.S. Brewers Run by Foreign Companies

Mendocino Brewing
Ukiah, Calif.
Owned by: UB Group in Bangalore, India

It's one of craft beer's most important breweries, as well as one of its most cautionary tales. Back in 1983, Michael Laybourn and Norman Franks bought the brewing equipment from the pioneering New Albion microbrewery and hired New Albion founder Jack McAuliffe to run the place. McAuliffe came up with the recipe for the brewery's flagship Red Tail amber ale and made it the cornerstone of California's first brewpub and only the second post-Prohibition brewpub in the U.S. behind Bert Grant's Yakima Brewing.

That lasted for nine years before the owners got the idea to sell shares in the company and advertise the sale with fliers in their six-packs. By 1997, UB Group owner Vijay Mallya had bought up controlling interest in the company. The Brewers Association craft beer industry group actively considers Mendocino not craft, while Mendocino-owned brewing facilities in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., are used largely to produce UB's Kingfisher line of beers. Red Tail Ale and its home brewpub still exist as relics of what once were, but Mendocino Brewing is a hollow shell of the promising brewery it was 30 years ago.

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