This sponsored column is written by Steve Quartell, beermonger at Arrowine (4508 Lee Highway). Sign up for the email newsletter and receive exclusive discounts and offers. Order from Arrowine’s expanding online store for curbside pickup.
One of the singular breweries in our area, one that I always enjoyed touring while working with City Brew Tours — is Right Proper Brewing in Washington, D.C.
Like Arrowine, they are a community staple, uncompromising in quality, and have a pretty great cheese counter if I’m being honest. One thing Right Proper has that Arrowine lacks though — is a great name — and I don’t mean the business name. I mean their co-founder…
His first name is Thor, his last name — just to drive the point home — is CHESTON. *pause for polite laughter from bachelorette party on tour*
I caught up with Thor about running a business and household (with his wife and co-owner Leah Cheston) during our current situation and how things look going forward. Having known, and briefly worked for — story for another column, Thor over the last few years, I still giggle at how awesome his name is. SO, this column will be in Q&A format so I can use that name as much as possible.
Steve: Thor, can I call you Thor?
Thor: You… already do?
Steve: Excellent, thank you. So, Thor, through all this mess, Right Proper has been operating a production brewery, a brewpub, distribution throughout the mid atlantic, and a robust farmer’s market presence — what has this balancing act been like?
Thor: Operating during the outbreak has been bonkers to say the least. Since all draft beer sales dried up overnight, we started taking some of our fun one-off beers and packaging them in bottles and cans.
Steve: That’s how I was lucky enough to grab a few bottles of the Barred in DC Collab — a twitter poll created Ruby Saison. Pretty seamless from ordering to enjoying.
Thor: Yep, We launched a new website and focused all of our efforts on driving business there. The brewpub has slowly been growing their sales and we’re now getting ready for Phase Two.
Steve: With D.C. entering Phase Two, what has been the bigger challenge — the storm of shutting things down, or the Jurassic Park style turning things back on again in the right order, phase by phase?
Thor: Honestly the shut down was easier. When there is only so much you can do and so much you cannot do your focus is narrowed and you do not end up being pulled in so many directions. The multi-phase reopening is extremely challenging as we are juggling customers’ expectations, our staff members’ concerns and the increased cost of doing business with no real promise of revenue.
Steve: I wager I can empathize. Recent uptick in foot traffic even considered though, I was able to pick up my beer at the Shaw Brewpub pretty easily (Missed out on the Black Beer Movement, Cuffing Saison, collab unfortunately) I imagine the Brookland production facility has been quieter?
Thor: You would imagine correctly sir, to the point that our brewery cat Prima has substantially extended her domain.
Steve: MY GIRL PRIMA!?
Thor: Prima is the best. She’s taken over the tasting room space since there are no customers in there. It’s her world. We are just lucky she lets us live in it.
Steve: I Believe it. Speaking of “being in charge” you and Leah are still keeping a household with your toddler running without daycares open, alongside keeping the business moving- what’s that been like?
Thor: A welcome distraction to be honest, our 2-year old daughter demands a lot of attention and I love giving it to her. She is spoiled rotten to be honest.
Steve: So then, going into Father’s Day weekend, what can guests expect at Right Proper Shaw (and likewise Brookland) in terms of service, precautions, etc?
Thor: Things are going to be pretty normal, or as normal as they can be these days. We are not planning anything special for Dads as we are still being super cautious. We will be seating at 50% capacity inside the Shaw Brewpub, which calls for a new floor plan, but we have expanded our menu — so take a look before you join us.
Steve: One of the beers you released from Shaw held some great significance for a brewery focussed on community and one centered in the Shaw neighborhood of D.C. — You released a kellerbier under the title “Say Their Names” not only memorializing victims of police brutality in name, but as a fundraiser. Can you tell us a little more about it?
Thor: We released the beer in two waves. Both waves sold out in under an hour but it’s still available on draft in pints and growlers, all profits will be donated to Black Lives Matter DC. We’re training our staff on the importance of racial sensitivity to create a strong and safe culture of support for our employees, friends and neighbors of color. We’re rewriting our Mission and Core Values Statement to reflect our unmovable stance against racial injustice. We’ll be holding our company and employees accountable as well as our retail, distribution and vendor partners.
Steve: Anything else coming over the horizon for events that folks should know about?
Thor: We are working with Black Brew Movement to develop a series of homebrew classes for their members — held at our Brookland Production Brewery. Tune into our social media for more details.
Steve: Lastly, and least importantly, what has been your go-to quarantine food?
Thor: Pizza is good. It takes you out of your day and wraps you up tight in a warm blanket of cheese and dough.
Listen to Thor folks, he’s a good guy, he’s trying to help you out.