The Coast News Group
Northern Pine Brewing used a GoFundMe campaign to buy a canning machine to allow them to sell their beer while their Oceanside tasting room is closed. Photo via Facebook
Cheers! North County Columns

Cheers! North County: Northern Pine GoFundMe campaign brings out best in community

Northern Pine Brewing in Oceanside is a business built on the experience of beer and the community around it. In their comfortable 12-tap tasting room the reclaimed wood bar is overlooked by an imposing split-wood back bar.

Northern Pine is a place that infuses the vibe of a Northwestern or upper Northeastern forest right into downtown Oceanside.

If you close your eyes while taking a sip of a piney IPA at the bar you can almost imagine you are camping in a national forest along the coastline. Step outside, and you’ll be right back in SoCal only a short walk to the O-side Pier.

Northern Pine opened in 2017, and in their third year were looking to expand on their success by upgrading their brewhouse, beginning construction on a second location and planning to begin canning their beers. Then COVID-19 hit us all like a 95-mph fastball from Padres’ great Trevor Hoffman in his prime.

The ownership team at Northern Pine, including Marine veteran owners Bobby Parsons, Aaron Ortega and co-owner Anne Ortega, closed the doors to keep their employees and customers safe. Like the rest of us they have been waiting and hoping for a break in the storm. They applied for the federal PPP loan.

So far that hasn’t come through, and unlike more established breweries they weren’t yet packaging their beer, leaving a potential revenue stream untapped during a time it could really help.

Deciding they couldn’t wait any longer, they started a GoFundMe fundraising campaign in hopes of raising $7,500 to purchase a crowler canning machine. Crowlers are those oversized cans that allow us to take home draft beer right from the brewery, and the machine would allow Northern Pine to start selling their beer again for takeout and delivery while still fresh and cold.

Donors to the campaign would also receive 20% back in the form of a gift card to be used later and be added to a VIP list allowing them to purchase new beers before they were available to the public. They launched the campaign the first week of May, and I imagine sat back with a beer to wait once more. They didn’t have to wait long.

Less than 24 hours later they had obliterated their goal of $7,500.

Anne Ortega responded to their supporters, “YOU ALL ARE INCREDIBLE! We hit our goal in 24 hours! The messages and donations that came from all over the country filled our hearts with so much love.

While we have been trying to stay optimistic, it was refreshing to have such a positive day. To not feel helpless, and to feel like we are moving forward with a plan, brings back happy and hopeful feelings that we’ve not experienced in a very long time.”

With donors still asking if they could contribute, Northern Pine raised their goal to $10,000 to help them order additional cans, supplies and to pay employees to help design and create labels. At the time this article is being written, during day 7 of their campaign, 123 donors have donated $10,690, and filled the feed with comments of support for the brewery.

This is a tough time to be a local brewery and for lots of local brewery customers. To see this outpouring of support for Northern Pine, both financial and emotional, is a great example of the type of community North County is, and the power of craft beer to bring us together. Congratulations to Northern Pine. The North County community can’t wait until they can safely join you in a “cheers” in the tasting room again.

Until then we’ll be waiting for the ribbon-cutting on the new crowler machine and looking for the first opportunity to buy some beer to take home.

  • May 11-17 is American Craft Beer Week. Breweries throughout the county are facing unprecedented challenges. This is a great week to support your neighborhood brewery by buying beer for delivery or takeout, gift some craft beer to a friend, order gift cards and merchandise or check in with your favorite local spots to find out how you can best support them.
  • Look out for the new Cheers! North County podcast where I have a (virtual for now) drink with someone to talk about, well, anything. The first two podcasts are out this week on all your favorite podcast platforms featuring local beer writer Beth Demmon and Justin Sliwinski, the local market manager for Deschutes Brewery.