Quenching the Thirst of Mason City Beer Lovers
While COVID-19 is altering nearly every aspect of life, small businesses are being hit especially hard. These changes are forcing business owners to adjust, but their uplifting stories of perseverance and creativity are showing what Iowans are capable of in difficult times.
This rings true for husband and wife duo and founders of Fat Hill Brewing, Jake Rajewsky and Molly Angstman.
Started in 2016, Fat Hill Brewing is a community-oriented, seven-barrel craft brewery and taproom located in a long-vacant historic building in beautiful downtown Mason City. With 16 taps and space for 140 patrons, Rajewsky and Angstman have created a space for the community to come together over a cold beer and enjoy a wide variety of events, including food and beer pairings, food pairing nights, live music, a writing group, knitting meetups, and more.
“Everything about our brewery is a reflection of Jake and me,” said Angstman. “We love Mason City so much that we wanted to provide a space where people can gather and get to know their neighbors. We purposely don't have TVs and host events like speed-friending and book club because we want people to truly connect with each other.”
While the pandemic has caused them to close their taproom to the public, it has certainly not stopped their passion for brewing beer and engaging with the Mason City community. They revamped the website overnight to offer online to-go ordering, allowing customers to choose a pickup time to limit the number of people at the brewery. In the to-go orders, customers are often surprised to find free treats like local band CDs, cupcakes, sunglasses, and more to thank them for the support.
Their creativity continues to bring customers coming back for more. In the past months, they have designed new t-shirts, launched a new fruited beer series, moved book club and writing group online, and began hosting “Taproom Talk” Facebook live events during which they host a Q&A with customers and educate them on the brewing process.
Although COVID-19 has forced them to cancel in-person events and miss out on some of the busiest days of the year, Rajewsky and Angstman said they’re so grateful for the continued support and understanding from their loyal customers. And while they grapple with the decision of reopening, they want to ensure everyone’s safety and stay true to their business.
“Many people come just to talk to someone, they don't necessarily come just for the beer,” said Angstman. “Without people being able to mingle among tables, it doesn’t feel true to Fat Hill. Even though open only for to-go orders, we continue to feel supported and receive feedback from customers wishing us well and hoping we’re okay, which has been really touching.”
With big goals for their future, the Fat Hill Brewing team is excited to get back to connecting face to face with their community, but for now, they’re coming up with new, fun ways to keep quenching the thirst of Mason City’s beer lovers.