Pandemic woes lead to the thrill of a new businessDec 30, 2020 04:18AM ● By Virginia Dean
Historians are certain that social tumult caused by world pandemics can lead to social change and not necessarily for the worse. After all, they say, the bubonic plague led to the Renaissance; the plague of Justinian led eventually to the rise of feudalism; and the Antonine plague that ravaged the Roman Empire triggered the rise of Christianity.
Perhaps no one knows this better on a microscopic level than Emily and Jack Droppa of South Burlington who—when the recent pandemic came to town and shut it down—spent quarantine readying their new business, Weird Window Brewing, so that they could open as soon as regulations relaxed.
Fresh Start in Dystopian Times
And, sure enough, on July 18, 2020, its taproom was able to open its doors to the public with nine beers on tap, including a selection of IPAs, pilsners, brown ales, red ales, and stouts.
Grateful for the time to explore their creative freedom, Jack and Emily were quick to express their delight at starting a new business during these dystopian times.
“We were shocked at the response from the community,” said Jack. “Our seats were full the entire first weekend, and we continued to have reservations for almost every seat in the following weekends. Opening a business is never easy and opening in the midst of a pandemic makes it even harder. We have been fortunate to have support from the local community as well as local breweries as we navigate the challenges.”
Customers enjoyed the beers in particular, Jack related. One of the most popular was their Cersel’s Wildfire, a 6.5% jalapeño cream ale.
“That was one of the first beers we ran out of and brewed a second batch to keep up with the demand,” said Jack. “Once the weather starts to warm up, keep an eye out for it to make a comeback!”
A few other popular choices were Rains of Cashmere, a 7.0% New England IPA, All My Friends Are Hop Heads, an 8.0% New England double IPA, and We’ve Been Dancing, a 6.0% brown ale.
“It was a great feeling to have all the reservation slots filled almost every weekend, and great to see a lot of returning (masked) faces enjoying our beers,” said Jack. “The beer community here in Vermont is amazing. From the customers to the other brewery owners, everyone wants to see everyone else succeed.”
Making a Tough Decision
But success came at a price with the raging pandemic swirling around the state—and country—and so the Droppas have had to continually adapt and improvise their plans to create a safe, yet welcoming, environment.
So, on November 13, the Droppas made the tough decision to close the taproom to in-person service and begin offering contactless curbside pickup for growler fills and merch.
“This wasn’t an easy decision,” said Jack, “but it was what we determined to be the safest course of action for Emily and I as well as our customers and community.”
Once things have calmed down, the Droppas plan to re-open the taproom and outside space to in-person service.
“Seeing customers and interacting with them about the beers was a highlight for us,” said Jack. “In the meantime, we have accelerated our original timeline for cans, and will have two styles available in cans in mid-December. We hope also to offer more varieties of beer in cans in the coming months.”
Green Mountain Home
Jack has spent the last ten years brewing all over the country. His and Emily’s love of Vermont local community and culture is reflected in their beers and their name, Weird Window, which refers to the slanted windows unique to the Green Mountain state. The windows—whether called weird, crooked, coffin, Vermont, or witch—are commonly found on old farmhouses in rural Vermont. Jack and Emily thought weird would be perfect for their new business because of the strong connection to Vermont.
The pièce de résistance is the witch window in the taproom looking out onto the production space. Customers might notice other namesake panes incorporated into the décor as well, like the weird window acting as the mirror behind the bar.
To have a community that they both like and a brewery environment of so many craft breweries are some of the reasons the Droppas ended up staying here and opening their business.
“The quality is so high, so it’s a cool community to be a part of,” Jack said.