Want to help a flooded Sonoma County brewery? Buy a beer

Sonoma and Petaluma businesses were largely unscathed by the recent February floods, but a few breweries and businesses in the county suffered significant water damage that shuttered doors and forced employee layoffs. Now that the waters have receded, we can help these neighboring breweries in Sebastopol and along the Russian River by enjoying a cold pint or can while they dry out.

Stumptown Brewery (15045 River Road, Guerneville) flooded with over 5 feet of water during the recent storms. Staff, volunteers and regular customers put in countless hours to clear the bar of silt and mud, and the brewery was able to reopen on March 9 with its full lineup of quality ales and lagers. This small alehouse may be famous for its annual Stumptown Beer Revival & BBQ Cookoff on the Russian River each August, but the brewery’s year-round craft beer selection (like the world class Munich helles, brut IPA, ESB, stout and wheat brews) make a winter visit worthwhile.

Head brewer Manuel Mussen attributes the quick flood recovery to the foresight of the owners who bought the brewery in 1995 after the last big Russian River deluge. They knew the river would rise again so they designed the interior of Stumptown to be water resistant - using reclaimed wood fence posts for wall coverings and concrete flooring that made it easier to wash away silt. Still, with water levels neck-deep inside Stumptown, last week’s clean-up took a dedicated effort from staff and volunteers. Mussen was especially proud to see the community unite to help bail out the brewery, and was quick to pour those volunteers a pint of thanks. Now that roads are clear, the brewery hopes to see its Sonoma County regulars return and maybe some new visitors. As the half-submerged sign outside the bar reads: “Everything in life happens for a reason. Sometimes that reason is beer.” Tickets for the Aug. 17 Stumptown Beer Revival & BBQ Cookoff go on sale June 1.

The Barlow (6770 McKinley St., Sebastopol) has become a beverage beacon with Woodfour Brewing Company, Crooked Goat Brewing Company, plus the upcoming openings of both the DeVoto family’s Golden State Cider and a Seismic Brewing Company taphouse this year. The floodwaters severely damaged many ground-floor businesses in the Sebastopol shopping district.

Woodfour’s elevation saved that brewery from the brunt of rising floodwaters, but Crooked Goat remains closed, and the 3-foot water lines have pushed back Golden State and Seismic’s opening plans indefinitely. Other breweries and retailers are rallying to help those waterlogged businesses. Woodfour recently donated 20 percent of sales to those neighbors affected by the flood, and Grav South Brew Co. hosted Bingo and Beer at its Cotati location to raise funds to support Crooked Goat employees. Crooked Goat also started a GoFundMe campaign the employees who can’t work currently. We sampled Crooked Goat while judging at last year’s Battle of the Brews beer festival at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds, and hope to see the brewery recover in time for this year’s April 6 event. The brewers have not yet confirmed if they will be able to participate, but they were able to rescue many of their beers including the vanilla bean stout, Belgian quad and hazy IPAs.

Help bring life back to the Barlow with a visit to Woodfour Brewing Company at 6780 Depot St., #160, and support Golden State Cider’s recovery plans by sampling its 16-ounce cans of Bay Brut, Mighty Hops, Mighty Dry and Gingergrass ciders available at Penngrove Market, Petaluma Market and Willibees. Seismic Brewing Company has its main production facility in Santa Rosa, but anyone can support its Barlow taphouse opening by picking up a few cans of Namazu oat pale ale, Liquefaction Kölsch and Shattercone IPA available at Petaluma Market and Willibees. Seismic will also participate in the upcoming 13th annual Artisan Cheese Festival March 23 and 24.

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