We were a bit surprised Saturday morning to see the news that Tractor Brewing had closed all of its locations effective immediately. Like most breweries, Tractor had chosen to stay open for to-go orders of beer and food.
Ultimately, though, Tractor co-owner/president Skye Devore told us that she could not in good conscience remain open. It was not a financial issue, but a safety issue. Here is her full response to our email. It certainly gave us pause as we navigate these unpredictable waters.
“We are sad, too. At this point the decision is less financial and more safety. I had someone come in (Friday) to get a growler. After talking for a few minutes he told me we were one of his favorites, and he had come straight from the airport to get a growler on the way home. It terrified me.
“We are using any food we have left to make meals for employees so that we can take care of them as best we know how. One of my daughters has asthma. I can’t risk anything there and it would be completely unfair to ask staff to continue while I lock myself away. Business motivational speakers encourage you to think about “it’s not what we do, its why we do it.”
“Well, attached is my why. It is a picture of my twins on their last birthday. They older lady in the background is my 90-year-old grandmother. And, if I can’t protect them and the health of my friends who just so happen to work for me then I am a failure.
“I will also share with you a story that I shared with my employees:
When I was almost exactly the same age as my littles, my parents were the same age as many of you (picture Daddy Mitch at 31). My dad was an oil and gas accountant. My mom was pregnant with Kale!! The bottom fell out of the oil market and my parents had just bought their first house in Midland, TX. My mom was on bed rest. My dad was laid off. They walked away from the house and we moved in with my grandparents in Belen. The world kept going and we had each other!! My dad found another job. The joy of having a little brother was amazing. We learned some very hard lessons, but it also formed very much who all of us are today. My parents never bought another house together. My dad still says today is all you are promised and lives in the moment. Sitting here now, I have a whole new perspective for everything they went through, and admiration for how they handled it. I truly believe that the best thing we can do is look out for each other, make the hard choices we feel are best and remember to be kind to each other. Yesterday, I sang terrible karaoke at my desk. It felt better.
“I have asked all of our Tractor family to write notes for a time capsule that we will open at our holiday party in 2025. Reflection will be important. David and I will still be at the brewery/distillery. We are working with Broken Trail to manufacture hand sanitizer for the state. The price will cover costs, and we will do that as long as we can procure the other ingredients.
“Be safe. I know that many think it is not going to effect their health because they are young/not at risk/a unicorn/whatever. It’s not just about you. It is about everyone you come in contact with. And, everyone they come in contact with. And, everyone they come in contact with. We will see you all soon.”
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All of us in the Crew have felt a special kinship with Tractor over the years. Our site went from nothing to something as a result of writing about Tractor back in 2012, our readership increasing tenfold in a matter of days. E-Rock and I got a private tour of the Wells Park brewery when it was basically just a shell of what you all see today. We celebrated our fifth anniversary there, brewed the epic Vulgar Display of Porter there, and have counted many of the staff as more than just colleagues, but friends over the years.
The last week-plus has been tough on all of us, whether we make the beer or just write about it and drink it. This will not be the last story we write about a brewery closing. We can only hope that we will someday follow up with a story about Tractor reopening.
Stay safe out there, beer lovers.