Earlier this month, Arlington’s first production brewery in a century launched a campaign to raise $8,000 in order to partially pay for a canning line (equipment used to can). The equipment can cost about $23,000, so the initial plan was to cover the rest with a loan.
“When COVID-19 hit and all the brewery tap rooms were shut down, everyone moved to canning. But we didn’t have a canning line,” says New District Brewing co-owner Mike Katrivanos. “So, what we had to do was hire a third-party company to bring a mobile canning machine in… we did it out of necessity, really.”
New District was able to can a limited selection of its beers and sell them to the public. However, the process is expensive and can be hard to schedule, since the third-party company was also working with other breweries.
So, Katrivanos and his co-owner (and brother) Stephen Katrivanos decided they needed to purchase their own canning line and to ask its customers for help.
In just 10 days, the brewery hit that original goal of $8,000 and is now moving forward with a new stretch goal of $23,000 that would allow the brewery to own the equipment outright.
As of yesterday (Jan. 26), New District has raised more than $10,700 with eight more days still in the campaign.
“We are completely blown away by community support,” says Katrivanos. “We are obviously very blessed.”
There are perks, like T-shirts, hats and mugs. For those donating more, there’s an opportunity to be an assistant brewer for the day as well as a chance to design and name your very own beer. For $2,000, one can become the official “New District Monopoly Man (or Woman),” which includes getting two cases of beer from every canning run for the next year plus a top hat and monocle.
Beyond those perks, it’s also a chance to help a local, small business continue to overcome pandemic-related challenges.
New District Brewing Company opened in 2016 in a 5,200-square-foot warehouse space at 2709 S. Oakland Street, near the Shirlington Dog Park and the W&OD Trail. It was Arlington’s first production brewery — as in, not an accessory to a restaurant — in a century.
Like most breweries across the country, though, the last two years have been a struggle for New District.
Sales were cut in half in 2020 and the brewery has yet to fully recover to pre-pandemic levels, Katrivanos says. With omicron emerging and few guarantees about what 2022 will have in store, the ability to can and sell beer themselves to customers is a lifeline.
“[Canning] is in many ways the only way we can earn a living,” says Katrivanos.
With the new equipment coming, New District is looking at the potential of working with local, independent beer stores — like Westover Market and Crystal City Wine Shop — to sell its beer.
After the fundraising campaign is over, it could take up to two months for the brewery to get the equipment. Which means that it may be April or May before canned New District beer is available to thirsty customers.
But Katrivanos is optimistic that, by the summer, Arlingtonians will be able to taste the suds of its labor.
“We are just thrilled to be engaged in a community like this,” he says. “It’s been an awesome ride.”
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