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How Breweries Prepared for Hurricane Florence

When a major storm comes ashore, brewers and brewery owners need to prepare for the worst. In the Carolinas, beer professionals have spent the past week preparing for the worst and the eventual aftermath.

John Holl 12 days ago

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Photo Courtesy of Tradition Brewing Company

Anyone who has lived through the experience of riding out a hurricane will tell you that these storms aren’t to be trifled with. Many will also tell you that prepping for the worst in advance can mean the difference between ruin and being able to rebuild quicker. And, of course, personal safety is paramount.

Hurricane Florence is battering the Carolinas, putting more than 10 million people at risk of high winds, coastal surges, and serious flooding. With forecasters predicting this storm to impact the area for at least a week before it made landfall, residents and business owners had the opportunity to plan. Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine® reached out to breweries in advance of Florence making landfall to ask how they prepared for this potentially historic storm.

Alaina Meadows

Graphic Design & Marketing Coordinator, Tradition Brewing Company in Newport News, Virginia
“In preparation for Hurricane Florence, we are encouraging patrons to bring in gallon jugs and let us fill them with filtered water from our tanks at no cost. We’re securing our facilities in preparation for the worst but with hopes for minimal impact. We’re checking on our neighbors and reaching out to our friends at other local breweries to make sure everyone is safe and prepped. Community is a big part of the craft-beer industry, and situations like this highlight that aspect even more. We’re all in it together.”

Shawn Johnson

Owner, Birds Fly South Ale Project in Greenville, South Carolina
“We are a retired Coast Guard family with a lot of experience in hurricane relief, so we always try to provide support for areas in need. This week, we have filled 40 barrels with filtered water for our local community, and then we will can it after the storm and get it to areas that need it. We have opened our doors today for any of our local community to get 5 gallons of water to prepare—we are located in an under-served area of the city. We did this last year—partnering with a local restaurant, The Trappe Door, we used my Coast Guard connections (aviation) and shipped 1,000 crowlers of water to Florida after hurricane Irma. It also travelled to Puerto Rico for relief efforts following Jose and Maria.”
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Ellie Craig

Public Relations Director, Front Street Brewery in Wilmington, North Carolina
“As a high-volume brewpub, we had to secure a lot of equipment. We've boarded up our windows, filled our beer tanks with filtered water, gassed up our generators to help with refrigeration efforts and sump pumps, and—most importantly—made sure our staff, neighbors, and friends could evacuate and prepare themselves. Our building dates back to 1865, so it has seen a fair share of major hurricanes, but this could be the storm of the century for Wilmington, and we are taking every precaution we can to be as safe as we can be.”

Timmons Pettigrew

Director of Group Operations, Edmund's Oast in Charleston, South Carolina
“We were hoping to be open a little longer (who wasn’t?), but we closed the taproom, along with the brew floor, Wednesday afternoon until the storm passes. A lot of our folks are evacuating, and we wish the best for them and their families. Our last action was canning a kickass White Wine Barrel–Fermented IPA collaboration beer with COAST Brewing and Commonhouse Aleworks that we’d hoped to release on Saturday. It’s likely to be delayed a bit, but we hope it can be an exciting ‘welcome home’ to our locals.”

Neil G. Gimon

Owner, The Dreamchaser’s Brewery in Waxhaw, North Carolina
“Our brewery is in Waxhaw, which is about 20 miles south of Charlotte, North Carolina. To the north of us, the Waxhaw area is a growing community of a lot of new neighborhoods, but to the south of us, it is still a lot of farms and open country. An idea came to my wife last year, when there was the possibility of a remnant of another hurricane hitting the area. A friend of hers said that she was worried that if the power went out, they and their livestock would not have access to water. So, we started the tradition of filling our tanks up with water and will give it out for free to anybody who needs it. My head brewer has rigged up a spigot to our hot- and cold-water tanks, so it will be easier to fill up any jug or bottle. We feel that we are members of our community, and we all should help out everybody in times of need. We have gotten a lot of great feedback from the community as well. For us to be successful, our community needs to be successful. So, this is just something that we can do.”

Jaime Tenny

Owner at COAST Brewing Company in Charleston, South Carolina
“We worked like normal through yesterday, but we didn’t brew so we wouldn’t have beer actively fermenting in case of power outage. We brought in everything from outside, too. Luckily the brewery is in a Navy-built concrete building; it’s raised with no trees or windows, so it’s very safe. In fact, it’s where we typically evacuate to—after checking the surf, of course. It’s the best time of the year for that! Fingers crossed that Florence is kind to everyone and for a minimal impact!”

John Holl is the Senior Editor of Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine®. Email tips and story suggestions to [email protected].

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