The pandemic has prevented a lot of beer lovers from visiting breweries to drink and stock up on swag.
But, thanks to Dennis and Sammie Guy, you can still promote the beverage by opening your mailbox.
First Sip Brew Box, a Pittsburgh-based subscription service for craft beer enthusiasts, highlights a different suds-maker each month. While no actual alcohol is included, the packages, which come in various sizes and start at $25 a month, are filled with apparel, glassware, coasters, stickers and other branded merchandise, plus beer-centric snacks, soaps and baubles made by small business owners.
Sign up for a regular shipment or purchase a Brew Box as a one-time gift for the hophead in your life. You can also curate custom boxes for wedding favors and corporate giving.
The Guys, a husband-and-wife team from Crafton, are proud to support local and national breweries, especially during these trying times.
The couple was inspired to start First Sip five years ago after visiting Nantahala Brewing Company in Bryson City, N.C. They loved the sense of community generated by each poured pint. They saw folks throughout the small town sporting Nantahala hats and tees with pride.
“When you open a brewery, you’re not just creating a business; you’re creating an atmosphere, you’re creating a brand, you’re creating a story everyone wants to be a part of,” Dennis says.
They had dreamed of launching a brewery in the ‘burgh, but start-up costs top half a million dollars.
First Sip provides a way for them to be part of breweries across the nation and, eventually, the world. They’re looking to add foreign breweries to the mix. Customers in five different countries, from Brazil to New Zealand, are already signed up for the service to get American goods.
The first business on board with their concept was California’s Stone Brewing Co. Other industry bigwigs followed suit, but the Guys wanted to lend a hand to, well, other little guys.
“We partner with smaller breweries and mom-and-pop shops that are selling stuff from their homes, commercial kitchens and church basements,” Dennis says.
Locally, Dennis and Sammie have worked with Penn Brewery, Fury Brewing, 412 Brewery, Abjuration Brewing and Allegheny City Brewing (where they had their wedding reception). They regularly promote Pittsburgh beer on their social media channels … and sometimes they make a brew, too.
Dennis, an Army veteran, along with fellow service members from Burgh’ers Brewing and Couch Brewery, teamed up to create Esprit De Corps, an easy-drinking, American-style lager to support area VFW posts and American Legions.
The guys even design their own T-shirts that show love to service industry workers and the Black Lives Matter movement. Dennis serves on the board of the Pittsburgh Brewery and Taproom Diversity Council, a newly formed group of industry professionals who want to include, celebrate and elevate underrepresented groups in the city’s craft beer scene.
First Sip also joined forces with HEARTH, a transitional housing program for homeless women in Allegheny County, on the organization’s 10th Annual Hops for Hearth virtual beer fest. Dennis will serve as emcee for the March 26 event.
To the Guys and the breweries they work with, beer is more than a beverage, it’s a symbol of community. And who doesn’t want to drink to that?