2020 wasn’t easy for anyone. As a brewery without a kitchen, Lakewood was closed for the worst of it, but Bens says his customers showed up in one way or another, like at their drive-thru events. They weathered the storm, and thanks to Paycheck Protection Program loans, Bens says, he was able to keep his staff. “I don’t know if we’d be talking right now without the loans. Those made sure we could keep our people employed and paid.”
Still, the pandemic caused shortages for an assortment of supplies, which have yet to be corrected.
“Last year, the really big thing was cans,” Bens says. “All the bars closed, so everyone started getting beer or sparkling water at the grocery store so there was a huge shortage in cans. The big guys [breweries] could get cans, but it was really hard for a craft brewery to get them.”
Bens said at one point they had to get a supply of discontinued cans from a brewery out of state and slap their labels over the old ones.
“Shipping is the latest thing now and getting spare parts,” he says. “The cost of getting anything shipped has gone way up because there’s a shortage of drivers. And then if you order something, like tap handles for example, a lot of breweries get their tap handles from China because it’s cheap. Normally that’s like a six-month lead time, but now you’ll be lucky to get it in nine to 12 months. Everything just takes longer.”
In addition to long lead times, packaging costs have increased some 30% recently, meaning that planning far out in advance is essential. “We’ve learned in the last 18 months that this is our new normal. So, we better have our poop in a group,” Bens says.
The Temptress has somewhat of a local legacy. This imperial milk stout with a sweet caramel aroma and a whiff of chocolate was one of the first beers that, back when local craft brewing was in its infancy, made us all pause and say, “Hey, this craft brewery thing just might be legit.”
From the get-go, The Temptress has been Lakewood’s flagship beer and it happens to mingle well with other flavors.
This current "Seduction" limited-release six-pack offers three variations (two of each) on the original Temptress: a Double Stuffed, which is available for the first time ever outside of the brewery’s taproom, French Quarter and Sin Mint.
Double Stuffed Temptress is stuffed not once but twice with milk’s favorite cookie. French Quarter Temptress is imbued with bourbon barrel-aged coffee from Noble Coyote Coffee Roasters and a touch of chicory. Sin Mint Temptress has mint and a touch of graham cracker: think boozy liquid Thin Mint cookies.
The six-pack is available now in stores. You can use their online tracker to find it close to home (in the drop-down menu select "Seduction Variety Six Pack.")
During the pandemic, Bens live-streamed karaoke from his car in his driveway. At a time when we were sheltering-in-place, looking for toilet paper and generally bewildered with the world, it was bold and inspiring entertainment. “My karaoke is my therapy,” Bens says.
Alas, he no longer live-streams the often hours-long sessions from his car on Facebook. “About once or twice a week I go scream into a microphone and everything is better. Now I go to just a little dive bar near my house. They have Lakewood Lager on tap. I drink lager and sing songs.”
He says his top three staples are “Paranoid Andriod” by Radiohead, a lengthy 7-minute winding ballad, some might say with a lot of moaning and whining. For a complete deviation, “Annie’s Song” by Jonn Denver is second, followed by “All Night Long” by Lionel Richie.
“I also do Brintey Spears' 'Toxic' pretty well,” Bens says.