August Newsletter: Whats going on at Machine House??

What’s going on at Machine House??

It’s been a pretty crazy year so far, and I thought I would send out a little update to let you know what’s going on here at Machine House.  

COVID has presented a lot of challenges to our small brewery, as we try to navigate how to maintain our business alongside all the necessary restrictions.  Obviously, the closure of bars and restaurants severely hurt our sales in the taproom.  Sales of bottles to stores has been very steady, but our cask sales to pubs and bars have been almost eliminated as everyone else in the industry adapts.

Despite all that, we are fortunate to have been able to adjust to these limitations and find ways to keep getting our beer to customers.  Our online store (see here), with options for curbside pickup and free home delivery, have allowed us new outlets to safely distribute our beer.  Meanwhile, our new 5-liter cask bag-in-boxes have helped us keep our cask beer flowing in a fun and lively way, for a quality cask experience at home that has far exceeded our expectations.  Thankfully, the changes we have made have helped us maintain enough sales to keep us in business (for now!) and keep producing our fresh cask ales.

As the pandemic continues to grow and threaten our communities, the health and safety of the public has to take priority over any business concerns.  I’m thankful to be living and working in a state that has taken strong steps to contain the spread of the virus, and I welcome last week’s announcement of new restrictions on bars, restaurants and breweries to try and stop the spread.

We will be continuing our outdoor service, so long as the weather allows, and hoping to extend our seating area to allow more tables and more space between them.  It feels great to be able to have folks come and enjoy our little beer garden!  If you have come by, you may have noticed we have spruced up the outdoor area, and we are working diligently to make sure your experience here is as safe and sanitary as possible.

While it is wonderful to see familiar faces at the brewery again, the reality is that we are going to depend heavily on to-go sales over the coming months to keep the business going through the pandemic.  We understand that many people still feel safer staying at home than going out, and that is likely to increase in the fall when outdoor service is less appealing.  (Pints in the rain anyone?)  We will be keeping up with our online store and curbside sales for the foreseeable future, and continuing to offer free delivery as long as it is viable for us.  

I really want to encourage all of our customers to keep using these services.  They will keep us in business and hopefully be easy and fun for you too.  Honestly, it has been a lot of fun cruising around to bring beer to your houses, and seeing the joy it brings.  If you ever want to feel like Father Christmas, beer delivery is pretty close to it!

Thank you to all that have made the effort to order beer from Machine House.  Every purchase really means a lot to us, and if we keep it up we will make it through to the other side.

Our team

We have had a bit of a rejig of our staff here at the brewery, and now we are down to three people.  (Yep we are a really small brewery!)  Fortunately, although bartenders lost their shifts back in March, we did not have to lay off any staff as Leah, Cory and Tony moved on to other full time jobs.  (Perhaps you will see more of them at Machine House in the future, who knows?)  

Bill (that’s me) – having pretty much worked 7 days a week since Machine House opened in 2013, I’m now only at the brewery 3 days a week.  Still overseeing beer production and everything else, but a bit more remotely.  Many of you know, my wife Bettina and I were joined by baby Bea in December, and now that Bettina is back at work I’m at home with Bea four days a week.  Pretty fun but hard to get much work done… it feels strange but it’s a good change!

Jake Dworkin has been brewing here for two years now, and is pretty much handling all production duties at this point.  You’ll also see him behind the bar a couple of days a week.  It has been great for Machine House to have a hard-working brewer like Jake focusing on producing our cask and bottled beers and keeping the brewery running smoothly. Plus, he has so much positive energy! Here he is with a puppy.

Emlyn Strzempka recently moved into a full-time role as bar manager, and you will see her working the taproom Thursday-Sunday.  Emlyn has been with us in various part-time roles for over two years (including her awesome Pierogi nights at the CD pub, now the Capercaillie).  It’s great to have her here full time and bringing her energy and style to the taproom to make it a great experience for customers, even during a pandemic!  

We’ve had a lot of changes at Machine House over the last year or two, but we are really happy to have our current team in place.  Looking forward to a bit more stability in the next couple years, and to continue making better and better cask beers for all of you.

Posted on June 23, 2020