Walkabout Succeeds By Staying Put: An Interview With Cameron Litton
Walkabout Brewing Company is a legacy. A second-generation brewery (which, let’s recognize, is rare), Cameron Litton adopted the space and place from his father, an Australian transplant (and, hence, the name, walkabout). Like many sons taking over their father’s business, the younger Litton has preserved some of the traditions, but he also has adopted the brewery for a new generation, in particular, styling a cozy outdoor space that doubles as a venue for concerts and outdoor screenings for Ashland Independent Film Festival. (In June, AIFF will host a number of films for their in-person festival and Walkabout serves as one of the three venues.)
For the past several years, Walkabout has been the most consistent frontrunner for the annual Besties, our readers’ choices for regional favorites. To vote again for them—for their popular Workers’ Pale Ale and for their outdoor space—go to our website, RogueValleyMessenger.com, before April 22.
In the meantime, catch up with Cameron Litton in our recent interview.
RVM: Can you give a snapshot about how you’ve managed the past year? I know that’s a huge, challenging and dynamic question, but our readers would love to know what has and hasn’t changed, and how the world at Walkabout has or hasn’t shifted.
Cameron Litton: 2020 has definitely brought a ton of adjustments! Walkabout has always been heavily focused on draft beer (90 percent of our sales) as opposed to packaged beer (bottles/cans). Draft beer sales took a drastic hit in 2020 and beyond due to bar closures and regulations. We are currently focusing on direct to customer to go sales by purchasing a small canner for on the spot draft beer sales. We are working to make sure that if we were to be shut down again in the future we could provide direct to customer beer/food sales through delivery or pickup.
RVM: Walkabout has their wonderful outdoor space. It seems almost ideal for social-distancing. And you’ve been hosting events. How is it going? Do people seem “hungry” for the entertainment? What’s been the toughest part of planning and continuing to host those events?
CL: Our outdoor space has been a saving grace for Walkabout this year. It can be difficult to manage customers regarding social distancing over such a large space, but it does give us plenty of room! We have hosted some small music acts and people are definitely hungry for more. We look forward to hosting larger events in the near future but we are very aware of regulations and want to only do it in the safest way possible. Since we have only been able to hold outdoor events, we have had to cancel many to do weather which has been frustrating. In our experience most customers have been very understanding of cancellations or other complications due to current circumstances.
RVM: And let’s talk more specifically about beer. You have your well-known beers. Is IPA still reigning in popularity? Or, have you noticed that tastes and preferences have been changing over the past year?
CL: Our current most popular beer is still the Workers Pale Ale but people have been really enjoying our IPAs in house as well as the Midnight Oil Coffee Stout which we brew with coffee from Cerberus Coffee Co in Jacksonville. IPAs are still incredibly popular but I have noticed many customers more interested in lower ABV options; this is completely anecdotal though!