Business & Development

Brewery owners stirred by passion

COTTAGE GROVE – Covered Bridge Brewing Group at 926 E Main St. refuses to let a pandemic hinder its success. By adapting to the ever-changing rules surrounding the food service industry, the four owners Chrissy Chapman, Nate Sampson, David and Liza Barclay work together as a team to create a fun, safe environment.

Previously a grey empty auto-repair shop, Covered Bridge Brewing Group is now a bright teal brick building. Out back, a beer garden hosts two food trucks, El Quetzal and The Dipper, and Bad Cat Wings N Things is soon completing the trio, offering a variety of food options for particular tastes.

Since Covered Bridge Brewing opened in June, the team has adapted to meet the social distancing and mask wearing requirements, but it hasn’t been easy on them.

“The face mask thing has been difficult to overcome,” said Chapman, the accounting finance manager of the business. “And the barrier to communication. Naturally, you see someone you know, you want to give them a hug. That’s our nature. What do you do?”

The team doesn’t want to police people in the brewery, and Liza Barclay, the front-of-house and social media manager, said they haven’t had too much trouble with customers following the social distancing rules because they aren’t open late and don’t serve hard liquor.

Just under the size of two NBA basketball courts, there are plenty of physically distanced seating throughout the property, both indoor and outdoor. Masks are required unless seated at a table.

“They’re hopefully showing enough responsibility to make people comfortable,” David Barclay, coffee connoisseur said.

From left: Co-owners David and Liza Barclay, Chrissy Chapman and Nate Sampson inside their spacious brewery.From left: Co-owners David and Liza Barclay, Chrissy Chapman and Nate Sampson inside their spacious brewery.

The team said they are still intending to meet the original business plan they had for Covered Bridge Brewing, and not much has changed despite COVID-19 regulations. They are still a community hub and are planning pandemic-friendly activities, such as bingo on Sundays at 3 p.m., and karaoke on Tuesdays at 6 p.m.  

They try to source their products as locally as possible to show community support. Apart from the food truck options, Chapman said customers are able to order from Buster’s Main Street Cafe and have food delivered to Covered Bridge.

The team said they first met at Hard Knocks Brewing across the tracks from Covered Bridge Brewing, which has since closed and is now a dispensary. Chapman was a bartender, Sampson the brewmaster, and David and Liza Barclay were a part of the Cottage Grove Brewers Guild that met at the location.  

“We knew that ship was sinking,” said Chapman about Hard Knocks Brewing. “Nate and I wanted to do our own brewery, and do it right.”

Before becoming a brewmaster, Sampson has a background in molecular biology and worked as a microbiologist for 15 years. He said the last 29 years he’s spent crafting beers is a “much more fun chemistry project,” and his favorite beer he ever crafted was a barrel aged cherry flanders, a two and a half year project. 

Sampson also crafts the house sodas.

David Barclay has been roasting coffee from home since 2005, and professionally roasting since 2015 with his own brand, Laurel Mountain Coffee Roasting. After serving in the Navy for one decade and three decades in IT, he decided to focus on changing the commercial coffee industry and bringing specialty coffee to Cottage Grove.

Around 2015, Sampson wanted to make a coffee porter, and Chapman said there were “several customers asking for it.”  

“So we chatted,” said David Barclay. He brought coffee to do some test batches with, and it turned out to be one of the best selling beers.  

The Covered Bridge Brewing partnership was formed in 2018. Chapman said David and Liza Barclay had been looking for a location to start a coffee shop, but hadn’t found the right spot in town. The two couples decided to do business together, and the building took about a year to acquire.

Although Covered Bridge Brewing has an official ribbon cutting coming up, the team said they aren’t sure what the future holds.

“We’re ready for it, that’s the good thing,” David Barclay said. “We’re ready for it right now.”



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