Before we reached our present predicament, we were about the launch a light-hearted series – 10 (or more!) Questions with a Brewer. Well, we’re still going to move forward with that, but it would seem a bit strange if we don’t also check in to see how they’re dealing with the coronavirus shutdown. Up first is Andy Shaw, who was putting the finishing touches on his new tasting room in Southeast Portland just as the state ordered mandatory closures. For takeout and delivery options, visit their website.
You’re probably one of the few people in the world who can answer this question: What’s it like to open a brewery/taproom just as your state and country go on lockdown?
It’s been a crazy ride, that’s for sure! We obviously didn’t have this in the plans when we set out to expand and finally open a taproom. Since this has all gone down though, we’ve been blown away by the support of the neighborhood and people that are fans of the brewery. We figured we’d open a place for the people to come for the beer and it has quickly changed into us bringing the beer to the people!
Overall though, while this isn’t what we planned, we feel like being small and nimble has allowed us to quickly adapt and change our business plan to stay afloat.
Can you talk about the creative things you’re doing to generate business?
So far it’s been mainly social media, trying to optimize our SEO search results, and getting some timely press from local media that can’t believe our bad timing. It’s getting to the point where our delivery service is largely people we don’t know which means we’ve reached past our own social media sphere, which is exciting. The beer scene in Portland has been super supportive as well with providing links to breweries delivering and open for takeout, articles and highlighting different spots, as well as people sharing our story and encouraging people to support us.
The neighborhood has definitely shown up for us and has been buying beer regularly to go, which makes us feel quite welcome and a part of the Foster-Powell/Tabor South community. It’s been super cool getting to know people in short, 5-minute conversations as they stock up on beer.
How has business been? Any surprises?
Like I mentioned, the neighborhood support has been incredible. That and the fact that we’re now delivering beer straight to people’s homes and how excited and grateful they are. We’ve had quite a few people buy a few cases and send 4 packs to their neighbors as a way to encourage each other during this crazy time. Surprise beers are a great gift to show up!
You operated as a nano for several years. What’s it been like to make the leap to a larger scale?
I’ve been operating as a nano for 3 years. We have our new location and brewhouse locked in, we just need to get our permits through to the city of Portland. They’ve closed off the Bureau of Development to commercial projects like ours so we’re stuck in a holding pattern paying for a lease and equipment payments even though there’s no way to advance. We’re hoping that changes soon though, and they start to allow some additional permits to be submitted.
On the brewing side I’ve been able to be quite creative in making my one barrel brewhouse produce 3 barrels at a time, although it’s quite a bit more work! Currently I’m brewing 6-9 barrels a week to keep up, and that’s with almost all of our distribution dried up. The people coming to the taproom and ordering deliveries are doing an amazing job at drinking beer! Lately between brewing, cellar work, canning everything one can at a time by hand and working in the taproom when I’m able, it’s about 12 hours a day, 6 days a week. But we’ll do whatever it takes to make it through this! And I’ve always said I’d rather have the problem of not enough beer compared to too much beer!
So I guess I can’t say about stepping up yet, but hoping that day arrives this summer. It would just be amazing to get 7 barrels out of one batch and not have 3 boil kettles to clean afterwards. And not cramped in my 2-car garage with 4 fermenters, 2 brite tanks, a mash tun, 3 kettles, keg washer, walk-in cooler, grain mill, and misc. parts. Can’t wait to have a few extra feet of space at least! Ha!
10 (or more!) Questions with a Brewer
Hometown: Born outside of Chicago in Wheaton, Grew up in San Ramon California (Bay Area), moved to PDX in 2001. This is definitely home.
Favorite beer: Depends on the day, but been loving everything from Baerlic lately. Hoppy Lagers are my favorite though. Gigantic has an amazing Citra Lager.
Beatles or Stones? Most days Stones. Zeppelin over both.
When I’m not drinking beer, I’m drinking… Coffee
If I weren’t a brewer I’d be a… Whatever pays the bills for the family. I’ve been a garbage man, mailman, Pastor, barista, construction, all sorts of things!
When I’m not brewing beer you can find me… Probably on the Little League field coaching (until the recent crisis that is…)
What’s on the stereo when you’re brewing? Charlie Parr, Zeppelin, Rancid, Drive by Truckers, Bob Dylan, Dropkick Murphys, and Redemption 87.
Ale or lager? Default ale, but Hoppy Lagers rule over all other beers
What was your first craft beer? Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
Favorite book? Sun Also Rises
Favorite album? Zeppelin III
Favorite vacation spot? Vegas
Favorite quote. A good beer can be judged by the first sip, but it’s best to be thorough.
The next big thing in beer will be… Simple, well-made pale ales.
Timbers or Blazers? Blazers, until we get an MLB team (Mavericks, right?)
If I could choose anyone to have a beer with, it would be… Mark Twain