By Marguerite Washut, BBBC Marketing & Social Media Coordinator

It’s been eight months since Bale Breaker had to close its doors to protect its staff and community from the spread of COVID-19. At first, the team had hoped it would only be a quick, temporary closure but as cases spiked across the world – we quickly realized we needed to accept this new normal and make the best of it across the board. “All for one and one for all,” became our new mantra.

Out of all the internal sub-teams at Bale Breaker, however, I must tip my hat to our taproom staff. With their daily tasks heavily affected by the closure, they were ready and willing to help elsewhere. As the saying goes, when one door closes, another will open. And our taproom team certainly made more doors open by stepping up to help other teams whose jobs went into overdrive and thus, quickly became the jacks of all trades around the brewery.

To know them is to love them, and I know how much our community loves our taproom team; the faces of Bale Breaker, our after-work besties, the unsung heroes of the valley. So, without further ado, I will let them give you an update – in their own words – on what they’ve been up to, how their respective roles have evolved since the pandemic hit, and what they are looking forward to most once they can pour a nice, cold pint for you again – fresh off the farm in the middle of Field 41.

It’s only fitting to start with our fearless taproom leader (and let’s face it – everyone’s favorite face at Bale Breaker) – Enrique “Ricky” Sanchez. Ricky has truly led his team with the most enthusiastic approach, encouraging everyone to be a team player, getting his staff involved in all facets of the brewery, and is the brains and executor behind our drive-thru and curbside hours. Here’s what he’s been up to:

RS: Yo yo yo. I've been, trying to figure out how to sell more beer out of the taproom lately and create some type of promo with the help of our marketing team. Also helping out in packing and actually learning to respond to email in a timely fashion – haha! Jack of all trades at the moment or at least I’m trying to be. Oh, oh and Costco runs - Capri Suns are a must! Working a ton on my house right now, with the help of Colby Flory our Yakima Sales Rep and his dad TJ, big shout out to them - could not do this without them. Move-in-date is TBD but I've had the house for over a year. And last but not least, I just got my parents a puppy since I'll be moving out soon (hopefully before I'm 30 – because I’m the baby of the family). Not to mention, I’ve been moonlighting as a part-time car salesman - sold 2 Acura GSRs within 10 days! BALLIN’!  That’s all I got for now. Looking forward to reopening our doors and seeing all of my favorite faces in the valley. 

Next up is our favorite gymnast, turned beertender, turned soon-to-be entrepreneur (any day now!!) – JOEY! Although it’s nearly impossible to sneak a photo of the guy – Joey is one of our most dependable and modest teammates at the brewery. Your wish is his command – as long as he can stay incognito. ;) True to brand, he’s been busy behind-the-scenes helping on the packaging line, lending a hand to the brew crew and cellar team in whatever task they need, brainstorming fun/creative ideas for new merchandise (you can thank him for that rad straw hat we released this summer!), and serving our community from a safe 6-foot and masked distance at our weekly drive-thrus and curbside hours – all while purchasing his first house, becoming a dog dad to a silver lab puppy named ‘Huraa’, and pushing forward with opening the doors to his waterpark ‘Surf Barreled’. If you don’t follow his business venture on Instagram, you’re missing out. Go check out @surfBARRELED to stay updated on Joey’s latest news.

Then we have Sidney. The girl with the megawatt smile and contagious positive attitude. Sidney has been behind the bar since 2018 – basically the moment she turned 21, and I think I can speak for everyone when I say we are so lucky we snagged her! Since the taproom doors have closed to the public, Sidney has been helping the marketing team and learning a thing or two on the brew deck all while still serving the community at our curbside hours on the weekends. Here she is:

SC: Wow, hard to believe we’ve dealt with 8 whole months of COVID. Freakin’ 2020. Since we shut down the taproom WAY back in March, I’ve binged everything worth watching on Netflix, irresponsibly online-shopped my bank account away and indulged in all of the salty treats that my lil’ heart desired. But along with all of those VERY productive things, I also began helping out more behind the scenes with the marketing team. Learning more of the ins and outs of the brewery has been great. And if we’re looking on the bright side of things - COVID gave me plenty of time to do so. I sure do miss all of your smiling faces in the taproom. Although, I’m lucky enough to see a lot of you during our weekly Curbside hours. If I haven’t seen you… RUDE! Come see me, I miss you. We’ll get through this guys. One beer at a time!

Our next teammate is someone we can always count on to keep things festive. Where there’s a theme, there’s Taylor – with bells and whistles on. ;) The life of the party and a keen eye for creativity, Taylor has been our personal ray of sunshine during these weird, dark times. As a curbside staple, she’s helped evolve our contactless process while keeping the vibe positive and as personable as possible. Here’s what she’s been up to:

TS: 2020's been a wild ride, man. Going from late nights pouring beers in the taproom with all our favorite people, to selling beer in a parking lot has been an adjustment. We've been trying to get used to the new norm, but also find ways to stay busy. With less hours in the taproom department, I've been dabbling in a few new things, but probably the most exciting things have been trying my hand at photography (new new) and joining the sensory team. While Marguerite is away on maternity leave, I'll be helping with some of our social media content, along with getting well-versed on all things hops. I have a lot to learn, but luckily have some great teachers. Looking forward to the days when we can open the taproom again and see all my ornery customers, but in the meantime, I should be staying pretty busy. 

If you blinked, you probably missed getting to meet this next teammate face-to-face behind the bar, however, she sure has earned her stripes! Courtney joined the Bale Breaker crew only a few weeks before we closed our doors but has quickly become an invaluable asset to Bale Breaker. From filling your trunks with cases of beer via curbside hours to filling our newest position of ‘Finance/HR Assistant’ – joining our accounting team – get to know Courtney better below:

CM: As the newest member to the team, I started in the taproom 3 weeks before the pandemic closed our (taproom) doors. I then helped out at the drive-thru every Saturday during the summer. With no COVID end in sight, I decided it was time to find a full-time job. Well, the stars aligned for me as I have accepted a new role at BBBC and am now working with the Finance/HR team!! Once the taproom opens, I am looking forward to getting to know more of our regulars, chatting with out-of-towners, watching people try our delicious beers for the first time, petting all the dogs and listening to Joey get into debates with the regulars. Can’t wait to see you BBBC fam!

And finally, there’s me. Hi. I’m Marguerite. ;)

Before COVID, I used to help plan and throw the taproom parties and events, most likely violated your personal space by sticking my giant camera lens in your face for #content, and blasted your newsfeeds with my silly craft beer newbie anecdotes… ah, the memories. Ok, maybe I’m still doing the latter but you’re still here reading this, aren’t you?! While I had to endure some heartbreak by cancelling our events – big and small – especially, the Superbowl of all Bale Breaker events: Ales for ALS – I’ve learned more about the brewery than ever before. Jumping on the canning line, stepping in on sensory sessions, and investigating new areas of the brewery (i.e. the cellar) that I’ve been too intimidated to explore pre-COVID has really given me new life here at Bale Breaker. And speaking of “new life” – I also have been brewing up my own little concoction over these past 9 months. Yep, as I’m sure you’ve picked up on by now, by next week I will be taking on the new role of “mom.” So, hopefully, when I come back from maternity leave – I will have a healthy baby and a healthy community in tow. Cheers to that!

Until next time,

Girl Meets Hops: A monthly column highlighting what really goes on behind the buzz at Bale Breaker.

Posted November 13, 2020

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