At the end of October, Tim St. Martin emailed fans of his business, Barrel Harbor Brewing, announcing that after many months of struggling financially, he was closing his Vista interest. The decision came on the heels of the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) revoking his license due to unpaid taxes. In his online communique, St. Martin noted that an infusion of capital would allow him to continue, but reading his emotional dissertation, it seemed clear he deemed chances of that to be quite slim. But as he was preparing to file for bankruptcy, a financing possibility was presented to him. He followed through on it and is now in the process of dusting off his tasting room in anticipation of reopening this Thursday, December 12.
“I was originally working on a complete sale with a group that fell through at the last minute. We got the notice that the State Board of Equalization asked ABC to suspend the license right after that group pulled out, so it was a double whammy,” says St. Martin. “I was approached with a creative financing option which involved a sale and leaseback on some of my assets. I sold off just enough to cover the tax burden, allowing me to reopen without selling the farm, as it were.”
St. Martin’s goals for the second iteration of Barrel Harbor are to explore ways of expanding his portfolio to include alcoholic beverages beyond beer, including hard sodas. He wants to get his annual production to 650 barrels, about where it was two years ago. He is also in search of a new distribution partner (Barrel Harbor had been distributed by Markstein Beverage Co.), though he may ultimately decide to bring sales and distribution back in-house.
When asked how it feels to get back in the beer biz, St. Martin replies, “Wow is about all I can say. It has taken a lot of time, energy and a tremendous amount of support from my wife, our daughter who has been helping out working in the tasting room, our boys, my mom who is a creative financial wizard, and all of my very close friends who kept helping me get up throughout all of this.”
Barrel Harbor Brewing is located at 2575 Pioneer Avenue, #104. For the immediate future, it will open at 3 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays beginning and noon on Saturdays and Sundays. Having three days devoted entirely to production will allow St. Martin to brew enough beer to have adequate supply for the tasting room. He also plans to pick up some contract-brewing clients to keep his fermentation tanks rotating and generate additional revenue.