Throughout 2020, most individuals and businesses alike have had to set aside any big plans and focus on adapting to the ever-changing regulations and curveballs being thrown at all of us. Sidetrack Brewing Company was not an exception to this, said co-owner Dan Herr, in a series of email responses to us to kick off the 2020-21 edition of our annual Look Back/Look Ahead Series.
“This whole thing so far has been unexpected and unique … but, still the same in that we’re doing our best to provide a comfortable, clean and safe establishment to showcase the beer we are proud of and work so very hard to produce,” Herr wrote.
The sheer number of changes that businesses have had to make this year is enough to make anyone’s head spin, he wrote.
“Dealing with the evolving public health orders, communicating our open/closed/service status with our customers, keeping our staff engaged, employed and safe, changing to to-go service, making tons of signs (that seemingly no one reads),” Herr wrote. “Figuring out how to get crowler cans, and how to clean and re-use growlers, enforcing restrictions on customers, trying to adequately thank customers for their support, adjusting brewing schedules to slow down and speed up and slow down and change …”
Any business plan breweries had for this year has taken a backseat, but thankfully, the quality of the beer hasn’t. Head brewer David Kimbell managed to brew up a good number of crowd-pleasing favorites.
“We continue to strive to evolve our performance of service and our beer lineup,” Herr wrote. “David is doing a great job with keeping beers of consistently high quality and of a variety that our customers want. The MX Lager has become a staple and we are settling in with Basecamp IPA as our ‘house’ (West Coast style) IPA. David is also kicking out consistently excellent hazy IPAs. A Tribe Called Kölsch has also been a hit. Dark Daze is our first stout in a while, and we’re really happy with that one, too.”
Unfortunately, though, Sidetrack has had to tone down the creative production due to fewer people walking through the door.
“Sadly, we have not been able to keep our cask beers flowing consistently,” Herr wrote. “The reduction in our on-premises sales volume just doesn’t make the cask beers practical, so we are looking forward to better days when we can bring those back.”
The patio that was once filled with live music and pop-up shops is looking a more sparse these days, but the Sidetrack crew has hopes that brighter days are ahead in 2021.
“We are just hoping to be able to return to having what we used to call normal taproom service,” Herr wrote. “People sitting at the bar, mingling and talking with friends and making new friends. DJ’s on Friday nights, pop-up events. We are always thinking of new projects and new things to do around here. We continue to do behind-the-scenes work to improve our brewing/cellaring process and our bar service. We have some ideas for the patio, too, but nothing is for sure, yet.”
Sidetrack’s upcoming anniversary is another event that won’t look the same this year, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be celebrating.
“New Year’s Day will be our fifth anniversary,” Herr wrote. “We typically wait until the end of January to have a celebration. We have some ideas, but are kind of waiting and seeing before making any more definite plans for that. This whole thing has been a burden on everyone and it just seems to keep building. We’ll persevere and come out stronger and better in the end!”
Sidetrack’s resilience and consistently high-quality beer have enabled the brewery to weather 2020, and keep their eyes on the days when their taproom and patio can again be full. In the meantime, I highly recommend grabbing a spot on their relaxed patio and enjoying a Dark Daze to keep yourself warm from the inside out.
May the beer be with you, always.