Building a brewery was – although my father and I maybe took the brunt of it – was a community, it was a family effort. It was family and friends; everyone was included in it. This was truly the brewery that the community built.
Beer (and breweries) I think is a great vehicle to do more than just sell beer. We thought, you can balance making beer, drinking beer, and still being a very active person and being socially conscious.
Bert and I both left a long career, and you’re losing a community at that point. And we walk into Common Roots after building this, and we found another community.
We want to help support the community, but I think we’re here as a steward of that. And I think that the trust the community maybe has is something that we helped develop throughout the last six or seven years that we’ve been in business for.
Before I left the brewery I would go around and I would just thank the brewery. Tap a fermenting vessel and say, “Thank you. This was good.” The night that I learned that the brewery had caught fire, it was probably a really good day at the brewery honestly. It was jamming. We were packed, all the fermenting vessels were filled, we had just packaged a bunch of beer, the distributors had picked up, we had a taproom full of happy people.
I remember hearing this crackle. And it’s the crackle you hear when you’re around a fireplace or outside or something. And I remember my heart sank.
It was hard. It was hard coming over the bridge. And seeing the smoke, the fire engines and… Yeah that was really really hard.
Our dreams go up in smoke, and it became almost like an out of body experience standing there watching this happen.
So many people just started showing up. And the building is still smoking. And there was this energy that was starting to fester. And it eventually became enormous and became contagious.
The night of the fire, we had this one idea of community. When the fire happened we realized we had created a community much larger.
We were able to rebuild. And now we can really say that this is the brewery that the community built. So what else can we do now to keep paying that forward, to keep that momentum going? Because if we can come together for this there’s so many things that we can come together to continue to do.
The opportunity to create the Foundation has always been part of our story. It wasn’t just because of the fire. But the fire really amplified that this is something we have to do and we were capable to do it.
A place is only something. You can burn this building down again, and Common Roots is still going to be here. Common Roots is a bigger thing. It’s a group of people who have all come together. It’s a community of people that have come together with this similar ethos and this idea of sharing beer, breaking bread and seeing what we can do for each other.
But to be able to stay in touch and have a heart, to remember, to be open, to give and share… These are all part of who we were before this, and now because we have the means, we have the community support behind us, we have the Foundation, it’s like the better it gets the better it gets.
We’ve been really fortunate to get to support different charities and organizations and individuals throughout our tenure as a company. From the ownership side, it is really rewarding to be a part of. And it’s also an educational experience for our staff and our community too, to see just how many organizations are in need out there.
The Foundation is our way of paying this back and paying it forward to a community that’s just been amazing to us. We use the word a lot but we’ve been humbled through this whole process and we’ve created this Foundation and we hope you’ll
think about joining us because it’s a way we can all join together and do a greater good here in the community.