Wine Country Fires: Yes, but how are the breweries?

By Jay Brooks

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In Santa Rosa, flames came within a single city block of Moonlight Brewing Co. and the neighborhood, says brewery owner Brian Hunt, “is total devastation.” This is the scene a scant block from the brewery. (Photo courtesy Brian Hunt)

When wildfires began breaking out in Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino on Sunday night, many of Northern California’s brewmasters were still in Denver, packing up after the Great American Beer Festival, which had ended the night before. They raced to return, not sure what they would find in the morning.

While Sonoma and Napa’s association with wine has all eyes on the region’s devastated wine country, there are breweries throughout the region, as well. Some breweries have been evacuated. Others, including Carneros Brewing, are perilously close to the flames and their phone lines are down.

And others, of course, are grappling with threats that go far beyond business. Bear Republic owner Rich Norgrove says that a number of his key staff have lost their homes. He’s shut down production so his staff can help colleagues move out of endangered homes as quickly as possible. Meanwhile, Norgrove’s original Bear Republic brewpub in Healdsburg received evacuation orders today. The staff has moved to safety and the brewpub is closed.
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