Tuesday, June 2, 2020
June 2, 2020

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Heathen’s beer truck a hit with Clark County beer lovers

Long lines form in Battle Ground, Ridgefield to check out ‘crazy idea’

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Marie Yager of Battle Ground leaves the Heathen Brewing beer truck with her order on Saturday.
Marie Yager of Battle Ground leaves the Heathen Brewing beer truck with her order on Saturday. (Nathan Howard for The Columbian) Photo Gallery

Remember hearing circus-music tinkling through the neighborhood and running out, coins gripped in sweaty palms, to buy Bomb Pops and Fudgsicles from the ice-cream truck?

Vancouver beer marketers sought to evoke those sunny childhood memories with an ice-cream-style beer truck.

“We asked ourselves, ‘Which brewery do we work for who has the right kind of van and would be up for this kind of crazy idea?’ ” said Michael Perozzo, owner of the marketing agency Zzepplin.

Sunny Parsons, owners of Heathen Brewing, recalled talking about all kinds of weird ways to sell beer while drinking brews with Perozzo and others. Parsons has a couple of beer trucks, and he liked the idea of lifting people’s spirits by doing something silly. But that silly something also turned out to be complicated.

The first delivery through Vancouver started slowly. Once people realized what was happening, beer sold quickly. Some followed the truck from one stop to the next. Someone who lives a mile from Heathen’s Feral Pub in downtown Vancouver drove out to Felida to buy two cases from the truck.

“We usually bring too much beer, but we sold out. We knocked it out of the park,” Parsons said.

Heathen regrouped and created a new route through Battle Ground and Ridgefield. Employees spent five hours at the brewery the day before to can 400 beers with a new canning machine. Staff stashed ready-made pizzas and cans and bottles of a carefully selected Heathen beer in coolers.

At 2 p.m. Saturday, two Heathen trucks parked outside Battle Ground’s Northwood Public House, which is closed during the pandemic stay-at-home order. Long lines formed as the two trucks blasted songs like “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” by Green Day, “This Is How We Do It” by Montell Jordan, “Breaking the Law” by Judas Priest and “Stir It Up” by Bob Marley and the Wailers.

Linda Dollar and her daughter, Hannah, stopped by to get two six packs of Transcend IPA.

“This the highlight of my week — the only thing I’ve done,” Hannah Dollar said.

If you go

 Heathen Feral Public House (brew pub): 1109 Washington St., Vancouver, 360-836-5255

 Heathen Brewing (production brewery): 5612 N.E. 119th St., Vancouver, 360-601-7454

heathenbrewing.com

Patrick and Tracie Tandy waited patiently in the long line by the red truck. They live nearby and have been Heathen Brewing fans since the brewery opened. Tracie Tandy was hoping to get some cans of Promiscuous Blonde, a delicate blonde ale. Patrick Tandy likes all IPAs — East Coast, West Coast, hazy, whatever, and was hoping to grab a mix of this popular brew to take home.

It didn’t take long for the beer to sell out. The teams from both trucks reconvened. The original plan was quick 30-minute stops at Northwood, 3 Peaks Public House & Taproom and Hayden Park. Most of the time was to be spent riding through neighborhoods in between. Fortunately, Heathen had only publicized a stop at Northwood and 3 Peaks, so if the trucks didn’t make it to Hayden Park in Ridgefield no one would be disappointed.

The red truck headed to the brewery to restock. The white truck sat in the parking lot as more customers streamed in. It made its final sale at 3:40 p.m. and left the parking lot for the suburban maze of Battle Ground.

Music played from the truck and its occupants yelled through an open door, “Beer! We’ve got beer!” A small boy in rubber boots looked on curiously. A guy gave a thumbs up from his house.

A woman pushing a baby in a stroller called the truck over. She bought a four pack — on her way to becoming Clark County Wife of the Year. “He’s going to love this,” she said, anticipating her husband’s puzzled reaction: “You go for a walk and come home with beer?”

Perozzo’s plan was to ride through neighborhoods and sell beer. He worried that parking the trucks while people waited in long lines could devolve into a violation of social-distancing orders.

Instead, a different legal complication cropped up after Saturday’s run through Battle Ground and Ridgefield. The Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board notified Parsons that he can deliver pre-ordered beer but he couldn’t sell it from a roaming truck.

“This may have been the last run for the ice-cream-style beer truck or at least it will be a different version if we ride again,” Parsons said.

In the meantime, beer can be purchased at Heathen’s Feral Public House in downtown Vancouver and its brewery in Salmon Creek. It may not be as fun as chasing a beer truck playing music, but that cold can of Transcend IPA or Promiscuous Blonde will taste just as good.

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