If you looked out the window and saw a Tyrannosaurus rex, you’d probably be worried. But if that T. rex turns out to be a local brewery owner in a dinosaur costume, and she’s delivering delicious beer to your porch, it becomes a cause for celebration, and a rare reason to smile during these scary times.
Before Illinois closed bars and taprooms on March 16 to combat the spread of COVID-19, Rabid Brewing in Homewood (a suburb on the south side of Chicago) had cultivated a taproom culture built around quirky fun and an offbeat sense of humor.
“It was not uncommon for a panda- or T. rex-headed bartender to serve your beer,” says Rabid Brewing co-founder Raiye Rosado, who is also a blocker for the local Illiana Derby Dames roller derby squad. She and husband Tobias Cichon decided to keep that spirit going when they began delivering beer.
Since they hadn’t been distributing, their eclectic taproom tucked into an industrial park behind a Home Depot was the only place to get Rabid’s hazy IPAs and burly stouts—and customers were buying almost every drop. So when they switched to delivery and curbside pickup, Rosado and Cichon wanted to continue to infuse their brewery’s personality into each transaction.
“When we started making deliveries with the T. rex a few weeks ago, we didn’t announce it or advertise it,” says Rosado. “We just showed up. Our customers [had] a ball with it immediately, sharing photos and videos on social media.”
So far Rosado has made about four dozen deliveries in her T. rex mask, and often does a little dinosaur dance for the smiling recipients. “We’ve now got people sending the T. rex to their friends and family for beer deliveries for birthdays, holidays, and cheer-ups,” she says.
While the most popular beers have been a blackberry and apricot sour ale called Hexed and their double dry hopped hazy IPA, Whiro, Rabid is currently offering 32-ounce Crowlers of seven different beers, as well as bottles of Manticore, an imperial stout brewed with kveik yeast for their second anniversary. They hope to begin canning 4-packs of 16-ounce cans soon.
In a matter of weeks, the beer-slingin’ T. rex has taken on a life of its own for the close-knit Rabid community. And the recipients aren’t the only ones who get a smile from this prehistoric delivery beast. “One of the most fun parts of doing this has been the way our customer’s neighbors react,” Rosado says. “Since everyone is home, everyone notices when a dinosaur delivers beer!”
David Nilsen is a Certified Cicerone and a member of the National Book Critics Circle. He is a full-time freelance writer and beer educator, and leads beer classes, tastings, and pairings around Dayton, Ohio. He lives with his wife, daughter, and a very irritable cat.