The Coast News Group
The patio at Eppig Brewing in Vista. Photo courtesy Eppig Brewing
Cheers! North County Columns

Cheers! North County: How will winter weather impact your favorite brewery?

Something weird happened last weekend. I was walking along, and something slapped me in the face. Then it happened again, and again. It didn’t hurt, but it was cold and wet. It had been so long since it happened I wasn’t entirely sure, but an internet search confirmed, it was rain. It is winter in Southern California.

Unlike past winters when we would have taken our delicious local beer drinking from the patio indoors, this year we are confronted with the coronavirus pandemic making indoor drinking limited at best, and potentially not available at all if we fall into the dreaded purple tier. How will breweries respond?

How did the bad weather this weekend impact them? I asked Todd Warshaw, co-owner of Eppig Brewing, whose award-winning patio in Point Loma and at the brewery in Vista were soaked in rain this weekend.

The Coast News: How did the rain impact you this weekend?

Todd: Shockingly, it’s the first bad weather we’ve had since COVID restrictions started. The biggest impact it has on both our Vista and Point Loma locations. Our indoor seating is restricted to 25% per the red tier San Diego County is currently in. That means very few indoor seats in Point Loma, and while we have more space in Vista [it is] still not close to what we routinely need at either location.

TCN: What kind of adjustments do you think you’ll have to make over the winter?

Todd: Bringing in more heaters, and staying optimistic that we don’t regress to the purple tier, which kills all indoor use. If or when that happens, it will just be a matter of how many customers are willing to sit outside in cooler weather to enjoy our beer. It’s not going to be a good winter and, coming on the heels of an unprecedented summer and fall … let’s just say I’m hoping the next few months go quickly, and we can get into spring weather ASAP.

TCN: How can customers adapt to changing weather while still wanting to support their favorite breweries?

Todd: Bring a jacket! Our Point Loma location views are still amazing. It’s just a little chilly in the evenings, and if you still want to enjoy our beer at home, we offer beer to go seven days a week at Point Loma and Thursday through Sunday in Vista, as well as direct shipping to anywhere in California. Those purchases may not seem like they’d help, but every beer we sell — whether it’s a pint to a customer on our patio, kegs to local restaurants, or shipped direct — it all makes a difference to keeping Eppig Brewing up and running.

Todd continued with a message reminding us all to keep small businesses in mind saying, “Continue supporting your local small businesses. It’s been a brutal year for all of us — economically, mentally, emotionally — and winter weather is going to have a larger-than-normal impact. Keep coming out to support us. We’ll keep doing everything we can to make your time with us safe, memorable, and fun!”

I also reached out to Virginia Morrison, CEO of Second Chance Beer, whose Carmel Mountain location has a large open space inside as well as a coronavirus-inspired parking lot beer garden.

TCN: How did the rain impact you this weekend?

Virginia: Surprisingly, sales were not down significantly this weekend, but I would attribute that to fans coming out for the start of Beer Week. With indoor capacity still only at 25% and the looming threat of San Diego going back to the most restrictive tier, we’ve invested several thousands of dollars in durable tents and outdoor heaters. That’s hard to swallow when tasting room sales already are down over 37% compared to 2019.

TCN: How can customers adapt to changing weather while still wanting to support their favorite breweries?

Virginia: Like Second Chance Beer Company, many local breweries have made substantial investments to move seating outdoors. Find out which ones meet your comfort level and get out there! You also can purchase gift cards and merchandise and to-go cans and bottles, with many breweries offering curbside pickup and delivery now. Remember, there are over 150 independent breweries in San Diego, and almost all of us are small businesses. We’re resilient, but we cannot do it without fans. If you want us to be here after the pandemic, do what you can to help while staying safe.

Check out all of the SD Beer Week events!

Be sure to check out the recent episode of the Cheers! North County podcast featuring my conversation with Tommy Kreamer, head brewer at Gravity Heights, and don’t forget to follow Cheers! North County on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Got an interesting story about your drinking adventures? Reach out! I want to hear it.

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