Good Brewing’s Great Reinvention

If I learned anything from Saturday morning cartoons, besides three being the magic number, it was “necessity is the mother of invention.” In the past few weeks, I have heard this old proverb bandied about to express the way retailers and the beer industry specifically have responded in the face of the current quarantine.

Never was this point more clear than in talking with Kevin King from Good Brewing in Woodinville. When news broke of the Washington stay at home order Kevin and his wife Shalliah, a nurse, knew it was the right approach to the crisis.

“We both understand what is at stake,” Kevin said.

While we can all agree there is never a good time for a statewide quarantine, the timing hit Good Brewing especially hard. Right now, their business model is based 90% on in-house pint sales which is tough enough. But after just opening a second location in the Hollywood Schoolhouse area of Woodinville, it was especially painful.

“We wanted to make sure people had an opportunity to grab beer from their doorstep.”

Instead of getting ready for spring and summer crowds, Kevin was left juggling taproom hours for in person pick up, but soon realized, “I was not going to make enough revenue to pay payroll, rent for both locations and utilities.” That’s when he saw that some breweries had turned to delivery. Figuring out next steps, he called his friend Michael Dempster, from Mirage Beer Co., who had already implemented delivery. Kevin picked up a few tips and off they went.

Kevin explained, “Most people are making the right choice to stay home and not venture out. We wanted to make sure people had an opportunity to grab beer from their doorstep.” Kevin revamped the website himself and started to figure out how far they would deliver. “For the boundaries I wanted to make sure everyone had a chance to get beer,” he said.

They set south Seattle as one boundary, figuring highway traffic would be light. Originally Kevin thought Bothell would be as far north as they could go. That’s when a volunteer stepped up and showed what a tight-knit family Good Brewing is. Literally. Kevin’s aunt said she could help deliver up north, which allowed Kevin to set the northern boundary to Arlington.

“She offered to deliver anything north of Bothell which helps out,” Kevin said. “She really loves doing the beer deliveries.”

So, every day on her way north from work to home, Kevin’s aunt, who is an essential medical employee, delivers beer. I guess we know who the real MVP is here!

Besides Kevin, in his 1949 Studebaker pickup, and the gracious aunt, Good Brewing is currently keeping 2-3 people busy with deliveries.

Asked about the response Kevin said, “Some people just order up a 4-pack and 6 Dave coins — coupons for free tap room beer — just to keep the money flowing for the brewery.” Adding a food option of “Pizza in a Box” where you get dough and all the ingredients to make your own pizza at home has helped. As more people hear about what Good Brewing is doing they continue to see an uptick in orders.

“This week looks like it will be the best so far,” said Kevin, which he’s hoping will allow Good Brewing to bring on/back more staff.

Naturally, I had to test it out. Because really, pizza AND beer delivered to my doorstep, am I dreaming? I ordered 2 mixed 6 packs of beer and 3 pizzas in 3 different boxes one evening and set delivery for the next day. Lo and behold, in early afternoon of the next day there was Kevin, with cold beer and pizza on my doorstep! I could’ve hugged him.

But, you know, there’s that whole social distancing thing.

The pizzas come with dough and all the ingredients needed to make them: sauce, toppings and cheese. We made the pizzas as a family, which, besides giving our wi-fi a break, also gave us a fun activity to do together. All of the beers were great, which isn’t surprising if you know Good Brewing. The two that stood out to me were Birthday Haze Craze and the Patchwork Hazy Pale.

Once things settle down and get back closer to normal, Kevin said, “we hope people will come running back to sit in our seats. However, I think things will be different, so depending on sales, we may keep beer delivery going.”

Personally, I love going out for a beer and will continue to do so as soon as I’m legally allowed. But I hope the innovation of home beer delivery sticks around much longer than Miller Chill and Four Loko.

Peace. Love. Beers. Brian

Brian’s Tasting Notes

Birthday Haze Craze

Had to get this. Because anytime I see “Idaho 7,” I just can’t help myself.

| KEY INGREDIENTS Row Barley, White Wheat, Oats. Mosaic, Columbus and DDH of Idaho 7 hop hash
| ABV 6.2% | IBU 60

Patchwork Hazy Pale

Light enough to crush. Hoppy enough to make you think you’re drinking an IPA.

| ABV 5.2%

Order here

If you can’t come to us, we’ll go to you.

| Artwork + Photography courtesy of Good Brewing Co.

Wheezy’s Post-COVID Beer Bucket List

When all this craziness finally ends where is the first place you will go to meet friends, grab a beer and a bite?

What permanent remnants, of what’s now becoming normal, will remain after COVID leaves us? Will bartenders continue to wear gloves, and people to wear masks? Will social distancing still be a thing? In a time where “Virtual Happy Hours” have filled a desperate void of interaction with fellow humans, I know we are forever changed.

When I think about when this is all over my “I can’t wait till …” moments involve my friends, beer lines, trivia, live music, Seattle Beer Week (SBW) and bottle shares. In a time of circumstances pulling us apart, I wanted to find something that may eventually pull us back together, given a chance. And for my mental health, I need to believe we will want to gather in large places again, drink beer, eat food and kibitz with friends and strangers. Here are a few places that would be great choices once the COVID quarantine is a thing of the past.

Pine Box – Cap Hill

Going to a place that celebrates “Bruce Lee Day” has to be on any list of anything, doesn’t it? Considering the Pine Box was once a funeral parlor and the location of Bruce Lee’s actual funeral with Steve McQueen and Chuck Norris as a couple of the pall bearers, it does officially qualify as bad ass.

While they do have some great food choices, the real draw here are the 24+ taps, which bleed local beer as you sit at a bar, in an old funeral home. You can work on your own Black Belt of beer with taps from Holy Mountain, Cloudburst, Reubens, Stoup and Future Primitive all on tap. And with something running through their in house randall there is always something fun and unusual to pick from.

Brouwer’s Cafe – Fremont

Every time I enter Brouwer’s I feel like an underdressed extra in Vikings or The Witcher, stumbling in for a pint of grog. With the medieval vibe of stone and dark wood, it is easy to see why Barleywine just tastes better here. #truth

If you want to drink your way out of COVID, Brouwer’s is your place. I lost count of their taps at 50. Filled with local and other west coast favorites – but also some hard to find beers from Belgian and German. They have great bottles for in-house purchase and consumption. And we haven’t even started on the Whiskey. I’ll save that for when we start that whiskey blog!

Along with the beer, another must have is the Stoofvleez Frites. It is a Belgian beef and beer stew poured over delicious fried potatoes. Think Belgian poutine but way, way better!

Loretta’s Northwestern – South Park (pictured above)

Out front hangs the classic “Loretta’s Northwesterner” neon sign, cool enough to be retro but old enough to feel authentic and original. Inside, the dim lighting and low wooded ceilings make you feel like you are below deck on an old sailboat. Housing an old Airstream trailer parked in the partially covered outdoor area and a fire pit, Loretta’s is unpretentious and funky
in that typical South Seattle, Georgetown way.

They support their own with beers from the area including multiple Georgetown beers on tap, Counterbalance, San Juan Seltzer and Rainier tall boys. Besides the uber local, you can also find a Skookum IPA or taps from Wander, Boundary Bay and Holy Mountain. Seriously, this place has your beer needs covered.

One thing to eat is the Tavern Burger, sometimes called the Northwesterner. Known to turn hardcore vegetarians into meat eaters — fine print: not substantiated and probably not true — but it’s that damn good. A toasted bun and a no frills cheeseburger, beautiful in its simplicity. And oh go ahead, get the double.

With the curve flattening, and the governors of Washington, Oregon and California at least starting the conversation about opening up for business again, I can almost taste the draft beer on my lips, as I start making my breaking the ‘tine plans. Because I need to see people enjoying themselves over beers and talking about anything besides COVID. I hope to see you out at one of these places or just around somewhere in the Post COVID world. And if you have a great neighborhood bar in your area I didn’t get to please let me know. There are way too many to name in one post!

Peace. Love. Beers. Brian