Yakima brewery joins ‘All Together’ beer challenge, profits go to local hospitality workers

YAKIMA, Wash. — A Yakima brewery is stepping up during the pandemic by taking part in a collaborative project between hundreds of breweries across the world dedicated to helping hospitality workers and raising awareness of their struggle.

Hop Capital Brewing is one of four breweries in Washington state currently brewing All Together beer, the proceeds of which are donated to local organizations to spend on helping those in the hospitality industry.

The project was started by Other Half Brewing in New York; the brewery invited businesses across the world to use their open source recipe, public artwork and add their own twists to the beer.

“It was a way to connect with a brewery that’s all the way across the United States to do a collaboration with them but also a way to take the proceeds that we are getting to give back to the local community here,” said Johnathon ‘JT’ Thomas, co-owner of Hop Capital Brewing. “It just felt like the right thing to do.”

Hop Capital Brewing was able to purchase a portion of the supplies at-cost and started brewing their own All Together beer two weeks ago. Thomas said it should be ready for sale by the end of next week.

“We’ll be taking all of the profits, and it’ll be split between two places,” Thomas said. “Yakima Valley Resilience and Response Fund is the first one and then it’ll be split with the Latino Community Fund.”

The Yakima Valley Resilience and Response Fund is a product of the Yakima Valley Community Foundation and serves to, “help sustain charitable organizations and agencies as they work to address the COVID-19 virus and its impacts on the Yakima Valley, particularly our valley’s most vulnerable populations.”

The Latino Community Fund of Washington has an office in Yakima and awards community grants to programs and organizations dedicated to helping the Latino community.

“This virus has caused a lot of problems for a lot of people and a lot of people have lost their jobs,” Thomas said. “When I saw what [Other Half Brewing was] doing, it was like, ‘Well, we’re all in this together.'”

Over the past four weeks, the brewery’s been through a dramatic shift; when their taproom was forced to close under COVID-19 restrictions, the hardship caused the business to lose about 95 percent of its revenue.

Prior to the shutdown, Hop Capital Brewing was in the process of rolling out a new IPA called ‘pan-DAMN-ic ‘ in partnership with Ali’s One Stop grocery store in Yakima.

It was originally just supposed to be on tap, but with that no longer being an option, the brewery had to can and label it, which cut into any profits they may have made.  The beer is now almost completely out of stock.

“You’re doing something one day and then all of a sudden, without any control of your own it’s just erased right in front of you,” Thomas said. “The hardest part is probably the loss of employees.”

Thomas said the adjustment to being limited to sales only through to-go, local delivery or shipping has been challenging and has forced them to come up with alternative ways to bring in revenue, like the All Together or pan-DAMN-ic beers.

When Thomas learned the federal government had allowed for breweries and distilleries to start making hand sanitizer, he applied to add Hop Capital Brewing to the list.

He said it took about two weeks to get approved and on April 1, the brewery began the not-so-easy process of trying to find all the necessary supplies and ingredients.

“A lot of things are in high demand, so they’re really hard to find,” Thomas said. “But we were able to find bottles and all the ingredients … we started making it this week.”

The brewery has produced about 600 bottles of hand sanitizer from their first batch, which will be available starting Tuesday. Most have already been pre-ordered, with only about 100 left for purchase.

Thomas said Hop Capital Brewing plans to make more bottles, but is waiting for more supplies to be delivered, which isn’t expected until early May.

“I would say if you’re a beer drinker, or if you need hand sanitizer you can purchase any of our products online,” Thomas said, adding that hte more support Hop Capital Brewing and other local breweries have from the community, the better they’ll be when the everything starts to open back up.

Thomas said he tried twice in the past two weeks to apply for financial assistance through the Small Business Administration, but both times he was told the application had been lost and that he needed to try again.

“I was planning on doing [that] yesterday, until I heard the news that the funds that were allocated for small businesses have been depleted,” Thomas said. “It’s a bit of a sore subject because it’s very unclear what’s going on and not everyone is able to get what they need.”

Thomas said he’s thankful the brewery’s landlord has been understanding about their financial situation. He said if Hop Capital Brewing had to pay all their normal bills in full, with their current funds, they could stay open for about another three months.

With all the unique and difficult challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, Thomas said he’s grateful for the community coming together and helping one another to get through it.

“For me, personally, I think it’s definitely given me a different perspective on what’s important to me,” Thomas said.

There are several ways to support Hop Capital Brewing, including purchasing cans of beer or hand sanitizer:

Gift cards can also be purchased online.