7 Stages of Grief – Bruery Provisions Closes

Blankly staring at my twitter feed, it popped up. “Bruery Provisions is closing”. My early morning pre-coffee brain repeated the phrase several times as if it were abstract poetry.  Provisions for me is why I’m typing this shit right now. I’ve always loved beer, but when I stumbled in Provisions for the first time, I knew beer was finally winning. A flight of beers and wedge of cheese is all it took for me to register this site. Hearing the news, I sat in shock and clicked the link. Then it hit me, I’m on stage one of the seven stages of grief.
My second visit years ago. Two flights and some notebook paper for notes.

My second visit years ago. Two flights and a paper scrap for notes.

Stage 1: Shock and Denial

My initial reaction? I thought the The Bruery’s site was hacked and this was some sort of sick joke. Not funny assholes! I was about to email Ben Weiss, the Bruery’s director of Marketing, then his press release hit my inbox:

We at The Bruery regret to announce that we will be closing our retail shop & tasting area in Old Towne Orange, The Bruery Provisions, on Sunday, January 13th.  Provisions has been an important part of our company, spawned by our passion for craft beer and the opportunity to introduce others to it. Our decision to shut the doors did not come easy…

Thinking I was obviously on the show Punk’d, I got excited that I might get the chance to kick Ashton Kutcher square in the crotch. Wouldn’t that be nice to strap on a pair of those creepy Vibram shoes with the finger-toes and do some Kutcher ball damage?

Stage 2: Pain and Guilt

patrick and greg koch

Future owner on the left? The pre-crazy beard man Greg Koch visits Provisions Nov 2011.

Realizing it’s not a joke, I looked back to some of my old posts and photographs at Provisions while drinking an old Provisions Series beer. “No more Provisions Series beers” I mumbled softly. Is there anything I could have done to keep them open? Could I have shopped there more? What if I did just one more blog post? It’s all my fault dammit! I’m a horrible monster and pray for death!

Stage 3: Anger and Bargaining

I hit rock bottom seeing Instagrams of the 30% liquidation Provisions beer hauls.  #bruery #provisions  #whalesbro #haul #sadface #curbstomp #face #candyfromababy #craftbeer #beer #sours #upshitkriek #beerporn #instadrunk #beerninja #neverforget #BP4eva #poursomebeerout #deadhomey #birdwell #stpaul #yams #10000IBU

Cindy Santoyo's haul pic.

If your Provisions haul pic needs iPhone Panoramic, you done good. Craft beer geek/hoarder Jason Moore’s haul pic of deliciousness.

Did Patrick Rue lose a poker bet? Did the mob force him out of Orange? Did Ken Hollingshead Sr. visit Patrick in a dream? Were sales that bad?

“But they added a patio last year!”, “But they added full pints!”, “But the classes were always sold out!”, “But their grilled cheese sandwiches were awesome” But, but but…Damn.

Stage 4: Depression, Reflection and Lonliness

pic courtesy Cambria Griffith @goldenroadbrew

Sad Kendra hates GABF head. (pic courtesy Cambria Griffith @goldenroadbrew)

I thought about lighting candles. I thought about listening to The Cure Disintegration.  No more sneaking in for a quick flight while my wife antique shops. No more fun beer/cheese classes. No more La Tur cheese and a pint for dinner. No more Old Town Orange beer crawls. No more chatting with GM Kendra, Asst. Man. Lauren and the rest of their talented staff. No more meeting random craft beer curious old people that stumble in for beers. No more guest flight nights. Provisions did everything right…maybe too right. Sure their tasting room at the brewery is ‘enhanced’, but it’s nowhere near what Provisions was. It was a magical place full of talented people where beer was handled with respect.

Stage 5: The Upward Turn

Re-reading the farewell email, something struck me:

…increased our production capacity by 130% in the last few months.  About 40% of our beer is aged in barrels for a year or longer, and we’ve amassed a collection of over 3,000 barrels to achieve this.  In evaluating how The Bruery should operate in order to achieve its goals, it became apparent Provisions is not the best use of our limited resources.

So, if the awesomeness that is the Provisions is gone, I would expect to see The Bruery’s beer production unfold in an equal and opposite reaction. I want to be dazzled by their beers more than now. Simply bretting/bourbon barrel/or tossing fruit on a base beer? That’s not good enough. Is adding new branches to their huge family tree of award winning beers the way to go? Maybe revisiting successful beers another option? We shall see. Losing the Provisions is a huge loss for craft beer, and I expect to see dividends. Given The Bruery’s track record, I have full faith they can pull it off.

The Provisions staff preps for the Black Tuesday party.

The Provisions staff preps for the first and last Black Tuesday party.

Stage 6: Reconstruction and Working Through

Provisions had it all: people, place, and product. Can someone else step in and do a great job? Sure, but they’ve got some very big shoes to fill. Why did the previous tenant ‘Frog’s Breath’ fail? With huge regional craft brewers like Stone Brewing setting up stores throughout SoCal, or with successful local entrepreneurs like Julie Lim at OC Wine Mart as possible interested parties, the future looks bright. Different, but bright. (Note that I have no knowledge who is interested in the spot, I’m merely speculating.)

Stage 7: Acceptance and Hope

help-me-obi-wanBruery Provisions was such a bright spot on the craft beer map. Not just for OC…it was a destination. For out of towners, it was a one-stop shop. Sure you can visit Hacienda Beverage, Vendome Liquor or HI-Time Wine Cellar for bottles. Sure you can get great beer and slow-food at The Playground, Hopscotch, Carolina’s Italian, The Globe, Selmas and Beachwood BBQ. Sure we can visit the many great Breweries and Brewpubs in OC. As craft beer continues to grow, I’m sure we will see other boutique style shops open. The up and coming Packing District in Anaheim is ripe for a small cheese/beer shop.

Overall, I’ll miss my favorite beer and cheese shop. I’m thankful that it existed to begin with as it sparked me this righteous path of deliciousness, fearless writing, and fun.

For posterity, I saved their final draft list:

On Deck at The Bruery Provisions – 8
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Julie
Guest

I needed tissues to soak up my tears from reading this touching tribute! I doubt anyone could fill their shoes, but hopefully they can infuse the same amount of passion into the space as Patrick and his team did.

Jeremy Samson
Guest

Thanks for writing this one Greg. I had such a hard time fathoming the loss I couldn’t bring myself to accept it. I do look forward to their next year of brewing though and I suppose I will be frequenting their new tasting room a bit more often!

Drew Ciora
Guest

You can always visit Smoqued BBQ across the street for great slow food and great CA craft beer!

el serracho (@elserracho)
Guest

yes, Smoqued is good, and i’ve sat a the bar a few times now. But not quite the same vibe as the patio at provisions.

nick
Guest

yea, they better start producing awesome beers

or else!!!!

el serracho (@elserracho)
Guest

Nice write up, but man. this is still just so depressing. I live in old town and Provisions, especially after the patio and full glass upgrades, changed my life. it was my favorite place to drink beer in the county.

i had 117 checks in on Yelp, lol.

Any word on who might take the space? Is there hope to be had?

el serracho (@elserracho)
Guest

poorly phrased comment.. i meant any other type rumors. i’ve heard – rumor only – that Twisted Vine, who looked at the space before Provisions, are interested again and that Haven has interest in a bottle shop.

For my money, Port/Pizza port would be a great fit if you assume they follow the train line north and not the coast. How great would that be?

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