Sipping suds for a good cause

BREW CREW Ashley Gobert and Ross McCabe, bartenders at the Mad River Brewery. Janine Volkmar | Union

Janine Volkmar
Mad River Union

BLUE LAKE – The taproom at the Mad River Brewery is a busy place. What started out 10 years ago as a small bar on casters has turned into a community gathering spot in Blue Lake. Folks are buying pints at the bar, some come in to fill up growlers or just grab a couple of six packs to go, families are eating supper at the tables inside, and outside, a band is setting up.

Outside, well, how to explain that on a cold November night a crowd filled the picnic tables and dance floor to hear Wild Otis, that rocking good band.

In the summer, sunshine beats down on dancers and drinkers but in winter, the taproom has a tent, heaters, and those plastic flap doors over the entrance that usually close off a grocery store cold rack. It’s still cold enough to see your breath but customers in the know, all ages from little kids, Dell’Arte students, working folks, and older couples who have come to dance, are bundled up in warm coats and hats.

The hot delicious onion rings help to keep us warm as does the rest of the food order. The kitchen is, by the cook’s admission, “a little backed up” but the food is worth the wait. Besides, they gave us one of those gizmos that buzzes and lights up when the order is ready so that we can listen to the music and drink while waiting outside, rather than stand in line. When the gizmo goes off, shaking its booty on the table, other drinkers cheer.

The patio/tent is dog friendly too. Dogs are welcome “if they are good and on a leash.” The taproom has done lots of events to help dogs get adopted, inviting local groups to bring adoptable dogs in for Dog Day Afternoons.

Live music is on tap Tuesdays through Saturdays and best of all, it’s from 6 to 8 p.m.  For those of us who get impatient with music advertised to start at 9 p.m. that doesn’t actually happen until 10:30, that’s a real plus. Gini Noggle, a former manager of the taproom whose creative marketing ideas put her unique  stamp on the place said, “I love that we have music early. It allows a different group of people to come.”

Noggle was right. The community mix is one of the charms of the taproom. Everyone is welcome.

Community is important to the brewery. Pints for Non-Profits are so successful that they are held twice a month for non-profit groups. The business gets several hundred requests every year so they hold a random drawing once a year to book for the next season.

And this year, the Mad River Brewery outdid itself in the annual Sales for Survivors that benefits the Breast and Gyn Health Project in Arcata. Local businesses typically donate ten percent of their profits on a certain day in October. But the brewery donated the percentage on all five Tuesdays in October, raising more than $500 for the group.

Drinking beer to do good.

Mad River Brewing Company is located at 101 Taylor Way in Blue Lake.

(707)  668-4151,



Related posts