Craft beer enthusiasts go online as Clark County businesses turn to making
Clark County Craft Brewers are weathering the COVID-19 crisis by doing what they do best – brewing beer and selling it, but not to people drinking on site. Brewers come together, get creative and, as they say at Fortside Brewing Company, stay “beer strong”.
After all bars and restaurants in Washington closed earlier this month, beer enthusiast and marketer Michael Perozzo came up with the idea of virtually connecting beer drinkers to breweries.
Perozzo, founder of ZZeppelin Media, assists craft brewers with marketing in a professional capacity. It’s not just a job; Perozzo loves locally made craft beer. He’s easily spotted at beer launches or collaboration celebrations thanks to his thick black beard, black-rimmed glasses, and baseball cap. He’s the guy who knows everyone in the room — Vancouver’s unofficial craft beer mayor.
He wondered how he could recreate the pub experience in this new era of social distancing. Beer Nerds, a private Facebook group of 3,500 members from all over, seemed like a good vehicle to launch this virtual pub.
From March 17-23, when Governor Jay Inslee issued a stay-at-home order, Perozzo visited various breweries to talk beer and sip a pint with the brewers while viewers cracked open a cold one and poured their own pint. at home.
The first virtual pub took place on March 17 at Fortside Brewing where brewers were canning a new Pilsner. Fortside Chief Brewer Paul Thurston updated viewers on the new beers. They included a collaboration with Logsdon Farmhouse Ales, an India Pale Ale and a collaboration with Dwinell Country Ales called Honeylicious, a barrel-fermented wild ale fermented on Honeylicious nectarines and packaged with honey from Gunkel Orchards in Maryhill. Fortside owners Mike DiFabio and Mark Doleski shared a bottle of Dwinell’s High Spirits with Thurston and Perozzo.
Later that day, Perozzo visited Trap Door Brewing. Anyone can join the virtual gatherings. Just go to Facebook, search Beer Nerds and ask to join. Perozzo plans to continue virtual tastings, but from home.
“Beer Nerds is private,” Perozzo explained, “so people can talk about beer and their employer or Aunt Myrtle won’t think they’re alcoholics.”
Another group, Couve Brew Bevy, is also meeting virtually. The Facebook group of 250 beer-loving women normally has a monthly meeting with 25-40 women. This monthly meeting normally includes a short educational component on beer and serious beer drinking. They attempted their first virtual meeting via Zoom on March 18.
“The idea is for women to have a beer, go out and talk beer,” Kimberly Johnson said. Any female beer lover can join the group by making a request via Facebook.
Johnson hosts Couve Brew Bevy’s Facebook page and co-owns Final Draft Taphouse with her husband Mike Bolt. Final Draft, like many local beer spots, is open for takeout business. They have a long list of local beers on tap and in their one door fridge. Last week, the most survival-minded stocked up on crates, but many more came just to get their weekly batch of beer. The tap list is filled with local craft beers from Heathen, Fortside, Barlows and Brothers Cascadia.
“We always want to support local craft beer,” Johnson said. “Vancouver first, then Washington, then Oregon.”
“It’s a difficult time,” Perozzo said. “There have been no clear relief or economic stimulus announcements for food and beer.”
The best way to support local breweries is to buy directly from them.
Trap Door Brewing holds a delivery license from the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board. Breweries can deliver beer directly to customers using their own employees if they comply with certain requirements under state law. Beer can be sold curbside. The state liquor board is also working with local authorities to remove or expedite 20-day local review requirements for take-out privileges and delivery privileges for businesses that sell alcohol.
Brothers Cascadia Brewing in Hazel Dell is currently delivering beer. Bryan Shull, owner of Trap Door Brewing, said he hasn’t started delivery services because their take-out beer at the brewery is running well at the moment. Many grocery stores sell local beer. Beer from small craft brewers is more expensive in these places than beer from large breweries.
“Now is the time to make the $3 or $4 decision to get some chilled local beer,” Perozzo said.