How Vanished Valley Brewing Co. Survived the Shift

A group of men talking in front of brewery equipment.

Vanished Valley Brewing Co. was started in 2016 by Josh Britton, Manny Vital, and Michael Rodrigues. The brewery’s name pays homage to the four towns (Dana, Enfield, Greenwich, Prescott) that sacrificed their land and community to help build the Quabbin Reservoir – supplying clean drinking water all throughout the Boston region.

Vanished Valley’s success with small batch brewing since its’ founding, paved the way for further expansion on their 4-acre property in Ludlow, MA. 

While still operating out of a 20x20 sq. ft. shed in the back of the property – all of 2019 was spent preparing for a big grand opening of their newly renovated gathering place for dining and entertainment.  However, right when that part of the business was ready to get going – the pandemic shut everything down – forcing the team to revisit plans.

Co-Founder and President, Josh Britton shared, “We quickly had to adapt and pivot to keep our business afloat. This included shifting our focus to increased distribution of cans to retail stores, that were still allowed to operate.  We also added a beer and food delivery service to our model which helped keep our product on the market while also keeping our customer and fanbase happy.”

Uncertainty of how to weather the storm of an unfamiliar crisis of this magnitude, the team made smart moves that ended up saving the business…

“The situation forced us to rethink our menu as well, given that we were now a take-out taproom,” said Britton.  “As such, we added a variety of bar-b-que items to our menu, which was never the plan. The delivery of fresh beer combined with freshly made bar-b-que and pizza played a significant role in our ability to keep the lights on.”

Surviving the shift
This shift created by the crisis, required Vanished Valley to get more creative with their business model and identify products and services that would generate revenue during the shutdown period.  Adding food and beer delivery service anchored their survival strategy.  Later a beer garden for outside dining was added once restaurants were allowed to reopen on a restricted basis.

The business received two Paycheck Protection Program forgivable loans, as well as an Economic Injury Disaster Loan to support their recovery process.  This funding allowed Vanished Valley the ability to keep employees on payroll to cover the costs of rent and utilities as they weathered through the storm.

Today, loyal customers gather regularly around the taproom and the outdoor beer garden has extended their footprint – adding seating and a fire pit area, multiplying their total capacity of patrons allowed to be served.  Distribution of retail products has also expanded into Rhode Island and New Hampshire with plans to explore other nearby states in the future.

On Monday, July 25th 2022, joined by U.S. Congressman Richard Neal, MA State Representative Jacob Oliveira, SBA New England Regional Administrator Mike Vlacich, SBA MA District Director Bob Nelson, and other partners and friends – Vanished Valley Co-Owner Josh Britton led a tour of the brewery operations, sharing with the media how SBA programs and services helped the business survive difficult times with covid-relief programs but also assist the business with expansion through the 504 loan program.

This article does not constitute or imply an endorsement by the SBA of any opinions, products, or services of any private individual or entity.