Trailblazing brewpub Buffalo Bill’s closes after nearly four decades

Jene J. Long

HAYWARD — Soon after just about 4 many years in company on B Street, legendary Hayward establishment Buffalo Bill’s Brewery — just one of the 1st brewpubs in the nation and an early contributor to craft beer innovation — has closed its doors for great, the owner declared this week.

Geoff Harries, who has brewed beer at Bill’s since the late 1980s and owned the small business because 1994, posted the information of the closure to the brewery’s social media channels Wednesday afternoon.

“Sadly, Buffalo Bill’s Brewery is officially shut until the subsequent passing of the mash paddle of this historic and particular place. Thank you all so much for the guidance above the many years. It has been an extraordinary and fantastic journey. About the past 33 years Buffalo Bill’s has been my dwelling, my family, and my aspiration,” Harries wrote.

“It’s a tragedy, and we’re getting rid of a image of Hayward. It’s tough to envision how it will be changed,” claimed Kim Huggett, president and CEO of the Hayward Chamber of Commerce.

“It is heritage passing. Buffalo Bill’s for the longest time has been the anchor of our downtown, the signature business for downtown Hayward. The position the place specials were being accomplished. The put the place pupils hang out, the spot to go to enjoy a ballgame,” Huggett stated.

Bill Owens. (Photo by UC Berkeley professor Ken Light)
Invoice Owens. (Image by UC Berkeley professor Ken Mild) 

Opened in 1983 by photographer and homebrewing fanatic Bill Owens, the brewpub’s track record grew domestically as a spot to grab a contemporary beer, and it was later credited with earning the country’s initially commercially brewed pumpkin beer, dubbed just, “America’s Authentic Pumpkin Ale.”

Omar Morales, a comedian ebook writer who was raised in Hayward, attended California State East Bay in Hayward and now lives in Pleasanton, explained he’s noticed Bill’s improve and alter via the many years.

“I spent a whole lot of time at Buffalo Bill’s. It’s the form of place in which you could always run into previous buddies,” Morales, 41, mentioned Thursday. “Now, as an adult and a spouse and children man, it is extra a place we go to rejoice birthdays, Valentine’s Working day a few situations, day evenings with my wife.

“The biggest detail I’ll pass up is, in October, when it’s my birthday, we would go there to celebrate, and I would provide household a case of Pumpkin Ale, and I would hoard it,” Morales explained.

“Just savoring them below and there, attempting to make them previous till the following batch would appear in. Boy, I certainly hope anyone finds a way to continue to keep that Pumpkin Ale in circulation even soon after the doorways have closed.”

Hundreds of supporters of the brewery have been flooding Harries’ posts with comments sharing their unhappiness at the information and recalling moments they loved beer with friends and family members inside of the brewery’s heat house or on its solar-drenched patio.

“Great recollections of grabbing a Tasmanian Devil beer and jalapeño and cheese breadsticks while going to college at Cal Point out Hayward,” Monthly bill Jostmeyer wrote.

“I will miss the area!” he wrote. “Thanks to Geoff and all the really hard staff that produced my college many years simpler. Cheers!!!!”

HAYWARD, CALIFORNIA - June 03: An exterior view of Buffalo Bill's Brewery is seen on June 3, 2022, in Hayward, Calif. After nearly four decades in business on B Street, iconic Hayward establishment Buffalo Bill's Brewery ??
HAYWARD, CALIFORNIA – June 03: An exterior view of Buffalo Bill’s Brewery is witnessed on June 3, 2022, in Hayward, Calif. After almost 4 many years in business enterprise on B Street, legendary Hayward establishment Buffalo Bill’s Brewery — a single of the first brewpubs in the region and an early contributor to craft beer innovation — has shut its doors for great, the owner introduced this 7 days. (Dai Sugano/Bay Spot Information Group) 

Serving beer specifically to people on-site at a brewery was not authorized beneath California’s “tied-house” guidelines prior to a change in the landscape of state brewing regulations in the early 1980s, which Owens claimed he “took benefit of” and supported.

Just after then-Gov. Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 3610 into law in 1982, California became dwelling to 3 of the initially five brewpubs in the nation, including Bill’s, according to Assembly data.

Owens had earlier printed a guidebook termed “How to Build a Little Brewery,” which was later on current and republished with Harries. Owens also released numerous beer brewing publications.

When there may possibly be discussion about which brewpub was actually the really initially to exist in the country, “clearly he was an inspiration, remaining 1 of the earliest,” beer author Jay R. Brooks reported of Owens.

“I believe it inspired rather a several individuals and it served put the Bay Spot on the map,” Brooks stated of Owens’ brewpub product and guidebook.

Owens’ perform served located the greater Bay Area’s beer society, which is now “arguably a single of the greatest beer scenes in the state,” Brooks mentioned in an interview Thursday.

There’s also a “clear legacy” of the pumpkin ale tracing back to Owens, Brooks stated. Owens, in prior interviews, explained he developed the beer with a large part of grocery-store pumpkin pie spices and homegrown pumpkin flesh.

“Pumpkin beer was created in colonial times. But in contemporary times, it was Buffalo Bill’s that designed pumpkin beer what it is right now,” Brooks said.

Owens, now 83, established the American Distilling Institute and Distiller Journal. He’s not as wistful as some about the reduction of Bill’s.

“In my letters, I say ‘onwards.’ There are new worlds to conquer,” he said.

Harries, who read Owens’ guidebook, requested for a task there in 1987, but was provided only a likelihood to clean up out brewing tanks for cost-free in the late 1980s. Owens inevitably hired Harries and before long promoted him to brewer, according to the business’ website.

Less than Harries, the business enterprise expanded considerably to dozens of staff and hundreds of each day prospects at its peak, together with big distribution of its beers. He famous in his submit that he “came close to bankruptcy numerous moments,” but usually uncovered a way back.

It was not very clear Thursday why the brewpub is closing, and Harries didn’t answer to a ask for for remark.

In social media posts and opinions from very last 7 days, the brewery was advertising and marketing new can models, and mentioned that it was trying to get a return to its whole typical hours, which experienced been lowered in the wake of the pandemic.

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