Coronado Brewing seeks to sell Monkey Paw, while the founder sues for ‘breach of contract’


Amid a breach of contract lawsuit, Coronado Brewing is trying to get Monkey Paw off its back.

Less than 11 months after buying Monkey Paw, Coronado wants to sell the East Village brewpub and its lineup of award-winning beers.

“This allows us to focus our attention on Coronado Brewing,” said Brandon Richards, CEO of Coronado Brewing.

The move comes as Monkey Paw founder Scot Blair is suing Coronado, maintaining that the brewery owes him $33,534 and interest based on a promissory note executed in September. The next hearing for this lawsuit, which was filed in April, is scheduled for Sept. 28.

When the original sale was announced in July, everyone seemed happy. Richards maintained that Monkey Paw filled a valuable niche, making beers with a punk sensibility unlike Coronado’s more mainstream approach. ““They do a lot of different, unique beers that we don’t usually do,” he said then. “And I think their brand reaches younger, millennial drinkers.”

Blair, for his art, expressed satisfaction that the larger brewery would give his beers a bigger profile in the San Diego’s crowded marketplace. “This accomplishes all the goals that I wanted at a much quicker pace,” he said. “And I still maintain control and integrity.”

That was then. Now? “Really, Coronado Brewing can do some of the same things, if we push ourselves and push our boundaries,” Richards said. “We can become a little edgier.”

Blair was unavalable for comment Tuesday.

While Blair and Coronado’s owners, Rick and Ron Chapman, were old friends, after the sale relations soured. Blair complained that Monkey Paw beer recipes were being changed and that there were delays in canning and distributing the beers.

He eventually stopped working at Monkey Paw, choosing to focus on his other ventures, which include South Park Brewing Co. and Hamilton’s Tavern.

“It is really hard to build a brand without the co-founder’s involvement,” Richards said. “He’s no longer involved.”

Founded in 2011, Monkey Paw is a tiny brewery — annual production hovers around 650 barrels of beer a year — that nonetheless competed on the world stage, winning awards at the World Beer Cup and the Great American Beer Festival. Located at 805 16th St., the Paw remains open and the employees will stay on Coronado’s payroll until a sale is completed, Richards said.

“You can come by tonight and have a pint,” he said.

Coronado is open to selling the brand, brewery, equipment and furnishings — or any combination of those elements. “It depends on what the buyer is looking for,” Richards said.

No price has been listed.

Coronado acquired Monkey Paw only two months after investing in a startup, SouthNorte, which specializes in Mexican-themed beers. Unlike Monkey Paw, though, SouthNorte is not supervised by Coronado staffers — and there is no talk of divesting SouthNorte.

“That’s part of the discussion: can we handle one brand or three brands,” Richards said. “Right now, two brands makes the most sense.”