New beer releases at area breweries have been plentiful during the pandemic, and they’ve helped keep beer sales flowing during times when taproom traffic has significantly slowed. Unfortunately, for struggling bars and restaurants, limited releases have generally been relegated to breweries and retail outlets. Until now.
Grant Pauly, the founder of 3 Sheeps Brewing, wanted to do something to help these types of establishments, especially during the tough pandemic winter. So, he enlisted the help of Young Blood Beer Company in Madison and Third Space Brewing in Milwaukee, and the three collaborated on Operation SOS (Save Our Spots) Hazy IPA. The canned beer won’t be available at liquor stores or brewery tap rooms, but only at Wisconsin bars and restaurants, with the hope that it increases traffic during a time of year when business is slow, even in a normal, non-pandemic, year.
“We wanted to do something to help,” said Pauly. “We thought, why not send them this. Hopefully people will go out and support local spots. People were so good early on (in the pandemic) supporting on premise, but I think there’s fatigue. I think it’s easy to lose sight of our friends. We’re doing whatever we can to tell people to get out there and help these (bars and restaurants) get through the next couple of months.”
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“Basically, it’s giving bars and restaurants something special to sell,” Third Space co-owner Andy Gehl said. “Hopefully it draws people in to support them and reminds people these bars and restaurants are still here. These places aren’t going to survive unless we all support them.”
The beer, made with Belma and Talus hops, was brewed at 3 Sheeps. Third Space and Young Blood weighed in during the brewing process over Zoom.
“We’ve been talking to Young Blood, and we’ve become really close with Third Space,” explained Pauly. “The timing worked out well for everybody. It really was something we came together on and all had a part in. We all pulled a strength from each brewery. It was fun.”
Operation SOS is being packaged on Wednesday (Jan. 20) and will start shipping next week. It’s available to bars and restaurants, likely those who favor craft beer, around Wisconsin. 3 Sheeps spread the word about availability to its accounts and asked Third Space and Young Blood to do the same. Check the 3 Sheeps website for locations next week.
“The nice thing about this is if it’s at higher end places, it works for them, but it also works for corner bars,” explained Jordan Aberman, 3 Sheeps sales manager. “We’re trying our best to get it to as many different spots as we can while still making it limited. The whole point is to draw people in and go through this beer quickly and create a surge of revenue. The needle we’re trying to thread is to make it present enough to be impactful but limited enough that it’s not everywhere you look. It’s less about selling cases (for us). It’s more about what we can do for bars and restaurants that are vital to the community.”
Don’t expect the first Operation SOS beer to be the last. Pauly plans to continue with similar collabs to give establishments a much-needed boost until the spring.
“The hope is to have a few more,” he said. “It’s to help support accounts that have been so good to all of us.”