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March Mania

Hoops on Hops: Be positive, stay together, be determined — and get a beer

Dave Hoops

DULUTH, Minn. — Greetings to all my northern Minnesota friends.

As I write, we are all going through uncharted waters. I read Sam Cook’s piece in the paper recently and was so grateful for his leadership and perspective. Many other columnists have also offered comfort and support in their writing.

I’m only a brewer, but I’m also a dad, husband, small business owner and a community member.

So, this week I’m reaching out to share some of my own perspective.

For a small brewery in the Twin Ports, the market is crowded, and the margins are low. All our local breweries strive for excellent quality and good community engagement. We’re proud to brew beer for everyone here, and actually it is pretty fun. Now that we need to circle the wagons, I think I speak for all of us in promising that we will continue to offer beer for the people.

In the meantime, we will all band together in solidarity of the community in any way we can. Many of our businesses are closed to limit contact, but we can still offer support, such as retail purchases and curbside ordering. A really great example: our awesome neighbors at Vikre Distillery offering hand sanitizer for free, but asking for donations to support their employees. That’s just awesome.

When Gov. Waltz mandated bars and restaurants to close just days ago, I was at first frightened for our employees and the business. I still am, but I thought it was the right thing to do and was grateful that our Minnesota leadership was on the job and proactive. Since then, as we all know, the COVID-19 news has been tough to watch, tough to avoid. Keep calm and have a beer, maybe.

In the interim, my family has hunkered down in the house together. Cooking meals, taking walks, reading, playing cribbage and other games, watching movies and remaining positive together.

Our Beer Hall family has stayed close, reaching out to each other with news and stories and most of all, support.

The natural impulse in times like these is to look out for yourself and your loved ones. I certainly am not immune to those feelings; however, as a small business owner, I also feel a huge responsibility to my employees, colleagues and the patrons we serve. I also think about all the folks in the supply chain, many of them also small business owners.

I’ve always joked that beer will always to there to comfort people when times are lean or help with the celebration when things are glorious. It is surreal to hang out in the empty Beer Hall, working with the beer and running orders out to the curb. It’s a safe place to be, which offers comfort. And we continue to brew and work on providing beer to folks who want it.

Of course, we need to be vigilant about using common sense like social distancing (for real everyone) and 100% trying to do all you can for your neighbors is the best and right thing to do now. Help each other all you can. I keep hearing that we are all in this together. I sure agree with that and am totally on board hoping to do my part where opportunities arise.

Social distancing does not mean losing contact. Call your friends; tweet, text, post positive and fun things. Meet up outside for a walk and some fresh air. If you are able, order out for curbside or delivery frequently. Trying to order a meal a day from the closed restaurants in Duluth is a good idea. That’s the goal at our house so we can continue to support our local businesses. Most of all, look after each other and remember this time will pass. None of us — including our leadership — has ever seen a time like this, and I’m determined to be hopeful and forward-looking. There is really no other choice.

May you all stay well and hopefully get a locally crafted beer when you can.

Dave Hoops lives and works in Duluth and is a veteran brewer and beer judge. Contact him at dave@hoopsbrewing.com.

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