Between March and September 2020, the universe dealt Salt Lake City a trio of blows that read like biblical plagues. First, the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic closed Utah’s bars, restaurants, and many other businesses. Then, just a week later, a magnitude 5.7 earthquake literally rocked Salt Lake City. In early September, a storm struck the area, producing hurricane-force winds nearing 100 miles per hour and causing one fatality.
“It was like the apocalypse,” says Trent Fargher, who cofounded Shades Brewing with his wife, Alexandra Ortiz, in South Salt Lake, Utah.
A less resilient brewery might not have weathered such a menacing trifecta, but for Shades, these events turned out to be catalysts that got the brewery firing on all cylinders. With bars, restaurants, and taprooms shut down in April 2020, the brewery began an all-out sprint to make as many new beers as possible to keep customers coming back for repeat to-go orders. Shades released a new beer every week, with as many as 300 customers lining up to purchase the 70 available cases. (The name? Earthquake Series, of course.) Led by Shades’ head brewer at the time, Marcio Buffolo, the team seemingly couldn’t stop coming up with new—and more in-demand—beers.