March 30, 2019
The events of this past Monday are still very raw and painful. Each day since the fire, I have had a mixture of emotions: relief no one was injured, disbelief that this happened, and now the uncertainty in what the future holds. So many memories and pictures in my mind of the last 5 years keep coming back to me. I told Robin that I had a little routine each day when I left the brewery… from the day we started to renovate the old girl to the day I left it on that fateful night, I would always take just a moment to look around at the operation, perhaps pat a tank and say, “Good night, Brewery… thank you.”
It was, in retrospect, an odd little gesture but it always made me feel good to appreciate the remarkable space that it was. Even when the building was being renovated and we were still working to give it a new life, it seemed like a special place. We would work all day (and night sometimes), laughing, cursing and listening to music. Ultimately at some point, it became that time to turn off the lights and say good night.
This past Monday was no different. We had another busy day at the brewery. The fermenting vessels were all full, and the beer for the day was packaged and shipped out. The brewery looked clean and ready for the next day’s excitement. The sound of beer happily fermenting and muffled sounds of fun from the taproom — all were familiar sights and sounds to indicate that things were good. As I made my way out of the production space, I gave a little nod and said, “Good night, Brewery… thank you.”
There is a very stark transition when walking from the brewery into the taproom. A few hours earlier, the brewery was a place of organized chaos…humid, warm, loud and full of action. Our taproom, by contrast, during the day is quiet and waiting for life to come back to it… until the evening arrives and guests start trickling in. Last Monday, the taproom had a nice gathering of regular customers and some new people; there was laughter and music, stories and beer. All seemed good when I left for home for the evening.
That all changed when I picked up a call from Christian, hearing the alarm in his voice. Robin and I rushed back to the brewery and were horrified by what we now saw. The flames, the smoke, and all the first responders were all there in some strange, surrealistic scene. It was hard to conceive it was really happening and everything we had worked so hard to create was quickly being consumed in flames. Or so I thought…
As it turns out, it wasn’t everything. In the days since the fire, we have witnessed an unbelievable outpouring of love and support. A community, beyond our wildest imagination, has embraced us and is showering us with love, support, and hope! One of our founding principles as a business was to “create and be part of a community.” Never in our dreams did we realize the extent to which that is now true. What we have collectively created in this special placed called, Common Roots, is difficult to describe. As Adam Evans described in his beautiful editorial, “the place has a certain divinity.” To me, this is the highest praise. We all know when we are in a special place because you just feel it. Our brewery was that sort of place. It felt right because the community built it, literally. The love, passion and hard work of so many people cannot be consumed by fire or any other disaster. It is still there and will rise again.
I have spent every day since the fire at the brewery looking for answers and hoping to find some important document or treasured memento. I have found them all. Some more relevant than other… but enough to help me think more about our future. I am confident we can re-create this special place called Common Roots Brewing Company again.
Yesterday, I stood there in the silent charred remains of the brewery and heard that distinctive “bubbling sound” of fermentation. The brewery was still working in its own way and, I thought, signaling to us that we’ll get through this.
Good night, Brewery… thank you.
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