For some years, Barnstable Brewing has supported Shepley Wood Products’ annual Shepley Wide Open, a charitable golf tournament, which last year raised over $50,000 for local nonprofits.
The COVID-19 pandemic this year canceled most events, including this fundraiser, which would have been its 25th year, but the owners of both Hyannis-based companies were determined to help out those in need in some way.
“Dan [Whiting, Shepley Marketing Director], Tony [Shepley CEO] and I started talking and there was a lot of synergy,” recalled Peter Connor, co-owner of Barnstable Brewing. “We came up with the idea to create a special beer for a special cause, to pay it forward, one pint at a time.”
The brew is called Civic Rent and the beneficiary is the Workforce Housing Relief Fund, established by Housing Assistance Corporation in April in response to the COVID-19 crisis. The fund provides emergency assistance with rent or mortgage payments for year-round Cape and Islands residents who have been financially impacted by the pandemic. Shepley and Barnstable Brewing will donate a portion of the sales from Civic Rent, a crisp, mildly sweet, light lager-style beer, that went on sale Aug. 27 in select retail beer, wine and liquor outlets as well as at the brewery store.
Shepley has a strong reputation for charitable endeavors as a supporter for countless organizations, so Civic Rent was a natural fit. “I view ‘civic rent’ as a social obligation that we should pay back to our community, both personally and professionally,” said Shepley.
Shepley is funding the costs for marketing, labeling and other expenses for the product, but Shepley’s industry connections also helped give an invaluable, initial boost to the Workforce Housing Relief Fund before the beer was even brewed.
“In the very first month of the pandemic, we had fellow industry members asking what they could do to help support people in need,” said Shepley. “As we all participate in the construction of residential housing, it seemed like a natural fit to assist people through the Workforce Housing Relief Fund.Now with our partnership with Barnstable Brewing, we are able to increase awareness and support for the fund. Just because we are six feet apart doesn’t mean we can’t come together as an industry and community to help those most in need.”
Barnstable Brewing also views itself as part of the greater Barnstable community and while given the mainly family members who make up the staff, it could have been named Connor Family Brewery, “We thoughtfully named our brewery after the community we intended to immerse ourselves in,” said Connor.
A lager involves a longer and more labor-intensive process than an ale and presents logistical challenges, Connor said. While most ales can be made one to two weeks, a lager takes up to six weeks, requiring a longer storage time. However, it seemed apropos to choose a lager for this effort, which helps Cape Codders remain in their housing.
Pivoting during the pandemic has been a mantra for many businesses, determined to stay afloat as health and safety concerns required configuring ways business had to be conducted. Both Shepley and Barnstable Brewing had to change some businesses practices as well.
While the brewery continued brewing, it had to close its public spaces during the pandemic, but Connor’s son created an online shop to allow curbside pickup. The store and outdoor patio are now open; the patio was expanded to allow for greater social distancing.
Construction was categorized fairly early in the pandemic as an essential industry and Shepley Wood Products immediately instituted guidelines for best practices for health and safety especially on construction sites and in their workplace. About half their office workers were relegated to working from home and office space was reconfigured to satisfy social distancing guidelines. None of Shepley’s 153 employees have been laid off, Shepley noted.
“We are grateful to Shepley Wood Products and Barnstable Brewing for partnering on a product that will enable consumers to give back and make an impact at the local level,” said Housing Assistance CEO Alisa Magnotta. “Civic Rent is a statement about the power of community and the important role all of us play in ensuring our neighbors have access to safe, stable housing which is needed now more than ever.”
Civic Rent is a limited edition lager, available on and off-Cape at Cape Cod Package, Gordon’s Liquors, Kappy’s and Lukes of Cape Cod as well as at the brewery store, 485 West Main St., Hyannis.
For the latest updates on Civic Rent, visit www.shepleywood.com/civic-rent.