Few businesses will have a COVID-19 story quite as odd as Smiling Toad Brewery’s (smilingtoadbrewery.com).
Since closing in June 2019 at their former location at 1757 S. Eighth St. (now Happy Tap), co-owner Biff Morehead and crew had been toiling away to launch in their new spot at 2028 Sheldon Ave. (formerly Thirsty’s). They finally opened on March 9, seeing a huge response before on-site shutdown orders came down: “We kicked ass for eight days,” says Morehead. “I’m very optimistic about the future.”
Smiling Toad began brewing at greater volume, having upgraded from a 3- to a 10-barrel system. So, just after their short-lived opening celebration, they’re sitting on a lot of beer — 11 styles currently, including their beloved IPa Freely and Ella Lavender. Guests may bring growlers to be sanitized and filled, and crowlers are also available daily.
Another challenge Morehead notes is how crowler cans have increased in price from around 95 cents a can to $1.77 recently due seemingly to demand, but he doesn’t want to pass costs along to customers during this tough time. Still, “the margins are getting small for us as prices go up.”
Another interesting side note: He says in the symbiotic relationship between breweries and food trucks, the breweries used to support the trucks more, while now it’s the trucks who’re bringing vital business to the breweries. (Smiling Toad hosts several days weekly.) He’s grateful to them, and to “our amazing beer community, supporting us all — I’m overwhelmed.”