Business During COVID-19:
Atypical Brewery & Barrelworks
Dec 18, 2020
What is Atypical Brewery & Barrelworks?
Nick Holwegner and his business partners, Eric Johnson, Dylan Davis, and Brady Dixon are proud owners of Atypical Brewery & Barrelworks – a local craft brewery located in Minot, ND. The four teamed up with a shared mission to provide high quality barrel-aged sours and other unique beers and named their business after the building’s unusual atmosphere– an iconic, cottage-style, 1920s, A-frame gas station owned by Dylan. Brady, also owner of B.A.D. Creations in Minot, was responsible for the look and feel of the building, while Nick and Eric were creating recipes and brewing unique beers.
“After I sold my first brewery, I realized that I was not ready to give up my passion for brewing quite yet. I started planning, found the perfect building and the perfect partners, and we started chipping away at it. Eric left his decade-long teaching career to join me and, before we knew it, we had built the entire business ourselves. As a small business owner, I love being able to create things and see them come to life in the way that you intended. Atypical seemed to come together that way.”
As soon as the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Atypical’s business model was faced with some challenges. Due to state guidelines, customers were no longer able to come in and enjoy a pint of beer in their seating area – something that the brewery heavily relied on. In addition, Atypical had been distributing their craft beers to over 20 different restaurants and bars throughout the state. With those businesses’ shutdown as well, Atypical’s distribution numbers dropped to 0.
“With a business model focused on people coming into our facility as well as distributing to other businesses, something like the COVID-19 shutdown leaves a huge footprint. The uncertainty was tough for us, but we decided that we needed to make a shift if we wanted to stay afloat. Our old business model was no longer viable.”
Atypical's Creative Solutions:
Along with the following social distancing and mask guidelines, Atypical decided to shift their business model away from distribution/people coming in and went to straight off-sale. The team had been doing minimal canning prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, so they hit the ground running and put 100% of their beer into cans when the shutdown began. Because the canning process is labor intensive, it allowed Atypical to keep all their employees on during this time as well.
Atypical has received phenomenal support from the community of Minot and beyond. After transitioning to canning, they figured that their production would slow down because not as many people would be purchasing beer. However, their production could hardly notice the shutdown as people flooded to the brewery to support them throughout these challenging times.
“As fast as we were putting our beer in cans, people were stopping by and buying them to show us support. We also made a handful of new beers throughout that time, so it generated some buzz and people wanted to try them. We feel very fortunate that we were able to keep our production the same and even experiment a little during a time like this.”
Advice for Other Small Business Owners:
“During challenging times like these, it is important to keep a positive attitude, stay focused, and think of things that are unique to your business that you could switch or change to still provide. By focusing on how you can adapt to the current situation, you can hopefully find creative solutions to overcome it.”