Barley Forge Brewing Co. in last days before another brewery takes its place in Costa Mesa

Co-owner Greg Nylen, second from left, and employees of Barley Forge Brewing Co. in Costa Mesa stand in front of its brew tanks soon after the location opened in 2014.
(File Photo)

Barley Forge Brewing Co. in Costa Mesa’s Sobeca District is passing the tap to another brewery — Green Cheek Beer Co.

Green Cheek co-owners Brian Rauso and Evan Price agreed Wednesday to buy Barley Forge for $1.05 million.

“We take pride and solace in knowing we are leaving things in very capable hands and independent craft beer will long flow from our fermenters,” Barley Forge said in a statement on Facebook.

Barley Forge became Costa Mesa’s first locally based brewery five years ago at 2957 Randolph Ave. Gunwhale Ales, Bootlegger’s Brewery and Salty Bear Brewing Co. followed on Randolph.

In September, Barley Forge co-owners Greg Nylen and Mary Ann Frericks announced they wouldn’t renew their lease, partly because of increasing rent. They filed for bankruptcy protection and posted an update in October on social media, receiving an outpouring of customer support.

“The reality remains that Greg and I will not be continuing as owners,” Frericks wrote on Facebook in October. “Nor will we personally be relocating Barley Forge, as we have neither the resources nor the wherewithal to undertake the expense and time that would require.”

Rauso and Price opened Green Cheek two years ago in Orange and were looking for opportunities to expand. They signed a 10-year lease agreement for the 10,000-square-foot Costa Mesa property, which is equipped with a brewery and kitchen. They plan to make the facility a Green Cheek location.

“We like what Barley Forge has done, and the owners are really good people,” Rauso said. “We started having conversations about what they’re doing and what we needed. Unfortunately, [Barley Forge] had to go through bankruptcy, which is sad in a lot of respects. But for [Green Cheek], we just needed a bigger footprint. And Costa Mesa is a great spot with food and entertainment.”

As for the Barley Forge beer and brand, “it will be in limbo until we either sell it off or decide to produce it ourselves,” Rauso said.

Though Green Cheek now owns the Barley Forge name, brand, recipe and equipment, Rauso said it doesn’t have the brewing capacity to make Barley Forge beer. The demand for Green Cheek beer is so high, the company might not be able to produce enough at both locations, he said.

Rauso said Green Cheek hired two Barley Forge employees and is interviewing the rest. He plans to have a New Year’s party at the Costa Mesa location.

In the meantime, Barley Forge’s tasting room and kitchen, with the usual menu, remain open while the sale is being finalized, which is expected to take about 20 days.

“We encourage our wonderful customers to continue to patronize our business during this transition to support our terrific staff,” Nylen said in an email.

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