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Craft Beer

After a few months of reprieve, Benchmark Brewing closes its doors

Benchmark.jpg
Matt and Rachael Akin for Benchmark.
(Courtesy of Benchmark Brewing)

Sunday was a bittersweet Father’s Day for Matt and Rachael Akin, as the parents of Benchmark Brewing closed the Grantville brewery a week short of its sixth anniversary.

“We just never found enough funding,” Rachael said. “There were so many potential investors and buyers and options that we explored, but we never found the right fit.”

This is the brewing community’s loss, as Matt made lower-alcohol beers that still delivered plenty of flavor. Table Beer, his lightly-spiced Belgian-inspired brew, was remarkably satisfying despite a modest 4 percent alcohol content. His roasty, full-bodied Oatmeal Stout (4.5 percent) took medals at the Great American Beer Festival, a gold in 2014 and a silver in 2016.

Yet the Akinses never recovered from a disastrous 2017 and ’18. Their plans to expand by adding a Bay Park tap room coincided with a distribution deal that cost them tap handles, a reversal of fortune that occurred as craft beer sales nationwide were slowing. In that period, Rachael Akin estimated the brewery lost “several hundred thousand dollars.”

“It was two years of watching us crumble,” Rachael said.

What next?

“Matt is definitely going to brew again,” Rachael said. “We just don’t know where yet.”

Read more from Peter Rowe’s column here.