This is another in a series of interviews with some of the industry workers who are working to bring beer to North County. Check out last week’s column with Lost Abbey’s Nate Bryson.
It is widely assumed beer representatives have one of the most fun jobs ever. They talk about beer all day, visit cool bars and sometimes get to sample the merchandise. Those duties also involve a lot of in-person interaction, time on the road and competition for sales locally. I reached out to several reps working to bring beer to North County to see how the coronavirus pandemic has impacted them.
Dan Jackson of family-owned Dos Desperados Brewery in San Marcos got his start in college bartending, working the door and bar backing. He worked his way up, becoming a manager. He was already ahead of the curve in his craft beer knowledge having home-brewed with buddies since he was barely out of his teens.
He wanted to move out from behind the bar, and into a brewery sales setting. Through a regular customer. Dan met Steve Munson, owner of Dos Desperados. The rest, as they say, is history. Dan has spent the past five years representing the brand in San Diego, and says, “Now it’s more family than a job.”
Cheers: How have your days changed from pre-COVID-19?
Dan: As far as communication with accounts, a lot has changed. First off, there is the factor of new hours for some and closures of other establishments. Trying to not only contact but sell products to bars and restaurants that have half to a quarter of their normal business is tricky. You want to push and sell, but also be sensitive to their [efforts] dealing with this pandemic.
For me as the sales manager, I mostly dealt with bars and restaurants. That has switched to a lot of liquor stores and bottle shops as we move from draft sales to packaging. Promotions and events have almost completely disappeared. We concentrate on in-house promoting now. I have also switched from almost 100% fieldwork to almost half my time spent in the tasting room …
Cheers: Have you been surprised by any changes in consumer reaction during this pandemic?
Dan: The customers have been great, especially our regulars. Obviously, we all deal with the occasional anti-masker or people who refuse to follow the rules. In those cases, we politely ask them to follow our rules to keep us and them safe. Of course, some refuse, and we are forced to ask them to leave. Fortunately, those incidents are few and far between.
I have been surprised by the number of new faces that are out to support small businesses like ours. It feels good to have the support of the community during these rough times. The most limiting thing to tasting room sales are the restrictions we now have to deal with. We got into the beer business, not the restaurant business. It definitely makes it challenging dealing with food trucks and food retailers, but it is what we have to do right now.
Cheers: How have you had to adapt to the safety concerns surrounding COVID-19?
Dan: The regulations are challenging at times. We have a binder with enough rules and regulations that we have printed out over the last past months to destroy an entire rain forest. The hard part is that so many of the new regulations are open for interpretation. Definitely makes it challenging. We want to be in compliance, but that is not always easy. We just do the best we can and ask the same of our customers.
Cheers: What’s your favorite D.D.B. beer?
Dan: Not to sound like a homer, but all of our beers are my favorite. Pancho Villa IPA is what really got me to say, “I can sell this beer!” [It is] a 9% ABV monster that drinks like a 6.5% ABV West Coast. Hazinitas Hazy IPA is the beer I wait all year for. A hazy brewed with Vic’s Secret [a style of hops], that we only do in the summer. The tropical fruits — guava, pineapple and passion fruit — really pop, yet Hayden Weir, the head brewer, keeps a nice hop bite that really balances the brew.
Cheers: Anything else we should know?
Dan: As far as Dos Desperados Brewery goes, we are alive and kicking. Our new packing and canning have been a fun change for us. Canning our flagship Hazy Daisy IPA and Lager Magnifico has been a nice boost to sales. We also just canned our Hazinitas Hazy IPA with Vic’s Secret.
You can find Dos Desperados Brewery’s tasting room and curbside pickup hours online at dosdesperadosbrew.com. Stop by their tasting room in San Marcos for a growler or crowler fill, or order for local delivery through BrewCatalog, and follow them on Instagram, @dosdesperadosbrew for updates. Check back next week for an interview with Taylor Allen of Thorn Brewing.