It was just a normal morning at Call to Arms Brewing. Owner Chris Bell was checking the carbonation on one beer, preparing a second beer for a canning run and setting up the taproom for another day of to-go sales in the COVID-induced purgatory that most breweries are living in. That’s when he looked at the gauge on his glycol chiller, an indispensable piece of equipment that keeps beer at the right temperature during fermentation and storage. It was off — way off. In fact, Bell learned later, the whole thing had suffered a rare catastrophic failure.
The situation would have been enormously disheartening — and expensive — during normal times. But during the pandemic of 2020, it was “a powerful punch to the face," he says, and enough of a financial blow to set up a chain reaction of events that could have put Call to Arms out of business.
So at the urging of his family, Bell swallowed his pride and asked for help, creating a GoFundMe page with the goal of raising $2,000 to help pay for parts. “It was going to cost a total of $10,000 to fix, but we just wanted to ask for something reasonable,” he explains. "While we pride ourselves on always looking on the bright side of things, we currently find ourselves squinting to find just a glimmer," he wrote on the page.
The response was more of a floodlight. Call to Arms hit the $2,000 goal within twenty minutes of making the page public last Friday — and reached a stunning $10,500 by Monday morning. Nearly 200 people — friends, customers, patrons, employees of other breweries — had donated money, mostly in increments of $25, $35 or $50, in an effort to help save one of their favorite watering holes.
"It was mind-blowing. I was speechless," Bell says. "It's hard to put into words how grateful I am. You try to make great beer and create a great environment with great customer service all the time, but the rules are more strict now, which makes it a lot harder, and it's easy to lose motivation, but then something like that happens and it comes right back. It was super-motivating."
Not only was the effort a "game-changer" for the brewery and its employees, but it reminded Bell how much people in Colorado love their breweries and continue to support them by buying beer to go, along with gift certificates and merchandise. "It's easy to be cynical about how the world is, but there are a lot of good people out there...and there is strength in numbers," Bell notes. "It makes me think a lot of places will be able to hang on."
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