The Coast News Group
local beer
Check out the San Diego County Tasting Room Spreadsheet to shop small and buy local craft beer for the holidays. File photo
Cheers! North CountyColumns

Cheers! North County: Shop local with help of spreadsheet

You want to support your local breweries, beer bars, wineries, distilleries and ciders, but who is open? When are they open? Are they offering takeaway? What about delivery, or will they ship right to your door? Do they have any specials or are they paying it forward with pints for health care workers?

If you’re focused on shopping local, shopping small right now, you’re not alone, but it can be difficult to keep track of all the changes due to COVID-19. Magie Brennan, a meadtender at Lost Cause Meadery, wanted to make it easier for us all. She started the SD County Tasting Room Spreadsheet to answer all those questions and more.

It has been shared widely in the service industry community and has become invaluable for those of us trying to keep our holiday spending local. I reached out to ask her more about it.

San Diego County Tasting Room Spreadsheet by Magie Brennen

Cheers!: What is this spreadsheet all about?

Magie: The SD County Tasting Room Spreadsheet is a business-updated, public-facing resource for people to find out if their favorite brewery, winery, cidery, distillery or beer bar is open for service. It’ll show hours of operation for pickup, to-go, delivery or shipping availability, links for purchase and more. Before the lockdown it also showed whether they were open for indoor and/or outdoor seating. It’s a living document that I try to keep as updated as possible!

Cheers!: What inspired you to build it and continue maintaining it?

Magie: The beer community in San Diego —both those in the industry and customers alike — is very tight-knit, and I didn’t want it to see it crumble because of COVID. No one asked me to do this. I just wanted to give back. [Like] a lot of people, I got laid off from my full-time job in March. I also had left my previous brewery job right before the first shutdown happened.

I wanted to be productive with my time and noticed that businesses aren’t always the best at keeping their customers updated on hours and availability. Understandably so. It was a stressful time. I just wanted to help in some way that didn’t require spending money.

Spreadsheet creator Magie Brennan. Courtesy photo

There wasn’t a one-stop source for all this information. I started a post in a Facebook group dedicated to those who work in the local beer industry and asked for everyone to comment their brewery and their to-go hours. Quickly, it was suggested a Google Doc should be made, and that’s how everything was born.

Initially, it was simply showing whether you were open or closed, hours and a merchandise or gift card link section. As the state allowed more things [like] shipping, delivery and indoor/outdoor dining the spreadsheet grew.

Then I started adding other craft beverage companies — cider, mead, kombucha, distilling — so they could get exposure too. It’s a big job, and not always as updated as I want it to be. It’s always changing, but I’m happy that it seems to have helped regardless. Some businesses are good at updating it themselves, but for the most part it’s just me updating it one-by-one.

Magie also said there is room for the list to grow. If you’re a craft brewer or restaurant not currently on the list, reach out or hop in to add yourself because more and more people are checking out the spreadsheet every week.

As a living document, it is editable by the businesses themselves, similar to how Wikipedia is constantly being updated by users. She gets a lot of updated data from social media and encourages businesses to make sure they have up-to-date information posted everywhere. Sadly, the list will also let you know if a business has recently closed permanently.

More recently, industry charitable efforts to support local health care workers, like Five Suits Brewing’s recent Beers 4 the ICU efforts for health care workers or Burning Beard’s In The Weeds program to support in-need industry workers, have found a home on the list.

I use it to find out who is delivering to my neighborhood in North County. It is a great one-stop resource for when I want to try something or someone new while staying home, staying safe and supporting local.

Donate to service industry workers in need through Burning Beard Brewery’s In-The-Weeds program!

Be sure to check out the upcoming episode of the Cheers! North County podcast featuring appearances by Elle French from local tequila company Cosa Salvaje, and Beer Santa.

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.