TORRANCE, Calif. – COVID-19 restrictions in L.A. County have forced taprooms and breweries to find new ways to engage their customers. In the Smog City Brewing Company’s taproom, chairs remain stacked as the room has transformed into a canning and delivery assembly line.
Laurie Porter is one of the owners of Smog City Brewing Company. She recently found a way to engage craft beer enthusiasts with virtual beer tasting happy hours online.
“I think people are really missing the culture of the taproom and so my husband and I are trying to sort of give an acceptable surrogate to that,” Porter said.
While the brewery's online business has picked up, the cost of closing her taprooms has cost her business over 50 percent of its revenue.
“Between our taproom and our limited distribution, there’s really no historical data to work with so everything is a guess everything is a hope,” Porter said.
Now, the brewery is finding a new normal by canning its craft beer for deliveries and creating an online community to mimic the atmosphere beer drinkers would normally enjoy in the taprooms.
“It’s really us saying like, ‘let’s not pretend like things aren’t upside down.’ You know, we are all challenged. We are all going through a common experience. Let’s take that and create a positive experience out of it,” Porter said.
With each filled growler and freshly packed craft beer can, Porter’s business is adapting with the hope that when restrictions are lifted, Smog City Brewing Company will be able to recreate the sense of community once found in it taprooms.
The virtual beer tasting events take place each Thursday at 6 p.m. on Zoom.
The link to the event can be found by visiting Smog City Brewing on Instagram.