Last weekend Reuben’s Brews began reopening for on-premise beers at their Ballard neighborhood taproom. This week Portland joins the rest of the pacific northwest in partially reopening in the post pandemic world. The time seemed ripe to see what brewery owners from each city could learn from each other.
Adam Milne was ready to reopen Old Town Brewing last Friday, when Multnomah County was expecting to get the go ahead from the Governor. That didn’t happen. Unlike Reuben’s Brews, Old Town Brewing relies on their pub business as a primary means of sales. While both breweries package beers, the percentage of sales off-premise in packaged beers versus on-premise draft beer is nearly a complete opposite in the 70/30 % range.
The contrasts between Reuben’s Brews and Old Town Brewing are evident, which only makes the conversation and trade of ideas all the more interesting.
Both breweries shifted to different pick-up options: Reuben’s Brews opened a to-go marketplace window that allowed consumers to never enter into an indoor space. Old Town Brewing created a drive-thru brewers marketplace for customers to pick-up beer without ever leaving their vehicles.
Fascinatingly, Reuben’s Brews has shifted to table service in the wake of the pandemic, while Old Town Brewing will shift from table service to counter ordering instead. Both business owners flip flopped from their previous taproom systems with the same goals of conducting safe and fluid business practices during the pandemic. Each brewery reached different conclusions, but through the same thought process.
Founder of The New School and most frequent contributor Ezra Johnson-Greenough has worked in the craft beer industry for almost 10 years, doing everything from illustrating beer labels to bartending at renowned beer bars and breweries like Belmont Station, Apex, Laurelwood and Upright Brewing. He has also had a hand in creating events like the Portland Fruit Beer Festival, Portland Beer Week, and the Brewing up Cocktails series. He is available for freelance consultation in marketing, events, graphic design and branding.