Rowley Farmhouse Ales loses supply trailers to devastating fire

On Saturday afternoon, Rowley Farmhouse Ales posted to their social media accounts that they had experienced a fire. The post began, “Rough start to the weekend here at Rowley Farmhouse Ales…”

The fire occurred early Saturday morning, completely destroying their two storage trailers.

“In the very early morning, we were called to find that the trailers were on fire,” co-founder and brewmaster John Rowley told me in an interview Saturday afternoon. “(Co-owner and chef Jeffrey Kaplan) got here first and dealt with an investigator. They quickly determined the fire originated from underneath (the trailer), in a space where someone was probably likely doing drugs.”

The brewery houses two trailers in their parking lot, which abut their dock. Both are used for extra storage, due to their lack of space in the brewery.

In the trailers, Rowley Farmhouse Ales kept everything from extra brewery equipment, festival gear, bottles, cans, lids, and merchandise, as well as a few keg conditioning beers and grain for future brews.

From the scene itself and reports from neighboring buildings, the crew at Rowley Farmhouse Ales believes that someone had been smoking or using an open flame in the small space beneath the trailer, and that the fire was an accident, not an act of malicious intent.

“So what happened was, we think the guy who did it was doing drugs,” Rowley said. “He might have been shooting heroin and then passed out with the light from his torch still going, or whatever it was. He started a fire. He realized, oh sh*t, there’s a fire! He went to the building next door, which had fire extinguishers on the wall in glass cases. He broke the glass case. He got the fire extinguisher and tried to put it out. He was unsuccessful. He left the fire extinguisher on the ground next to the trailer.”

The suspect then went to Deep Sky, the dispensary next door, which has several cameras around its exterior, due to previous break-ins.

“Yeah, the guy knocked on the door and said, “Hey, there’s a fire! Call 911!” Rowley recounts. “And they got him on camera. Luckily, the owner of that shop has an app where it showed him the picture and there’s a 911 button built into the app. He hit it. The police department or the fire department got here quickly. They put it out quickly, but there was a lot of damage.”

To assure that the fire hadn’t spread to the building, the fire department had also cut open one of the brewery doors, as well as the lesser damaged trailer. At that time, they had determined that the fire had not spread to the brewery building.

As for the trailers, everything looks pretty much unsalvageable.

The damage to the trailers and supplies and equipment housed inside is estimated to be a quarter of a million to half a million dollars.

“Everything is insured,” Rowley said. “We have insurance that’s up to date. I think we’ll be OK. But, you know, the process is a nightmare.”

Rowley said that he is not asking for any specific assistance at this time.

“I think the best thing for us right now is, besides waiting for the insurance to work itself out, just come and have a beer, come and have some food, you know, help us financially get through this. I’m not a beggar. I don’t want people to go do a GoFundMe or anything like that. If people want to do that, I’m not going to tell them no, but I’m not going to ask for that.”

Rowley did mention the possibility of a cleanup day, to remove the damaged trailers and their contents from the premises.

“That would be great, if we can work that out. We can’t really plan anything until we know what the insurance company’s going to want us to do, so we’re going to put that on hold. But, if that’s an option, we’d love to have a cleanup day. We’ll get people out here, fill up some dumpsters, we’ll get some Roll-offs and fill them up. That would be a big help,” he said.

Salvador Dali would be impressed or horrified.

Due to the nature of supplies lost, packaging and brew days are on hold for the time being.

“It’s definitely a setback for us,” said Rowley. “But, the key thing is that no one was hurt.”

We wish the folks at Rowley Farmhouse Ales a speedy recovery. The brewery is still open, so go and support them. We will keep you posted with any additional information.


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