Breweries get creative to recoup COVID-19 losses, support workers

Though grocery stores and convenience stores appear well-stocked in beer, wine and spirits even at the height of the coronavirus in the United States, the brewing industry is nevertheless taking a serious hit form the impact of quarantine and concomitant massive financial downturn – and naturally the most deleterious effects are felt in the lowest ends of the business.

In early April, the US-based Brewers Association released results of a survey which painted quite the grim financial picture indeed: The average drop in annual sales was expected to be 66% to 68%, depending on metric, while the majority of micro- to small-sized breweries expect they can no longer do business after August 1. And while drive-through sales are up 100%, drive-through sales represent just 5% of Brewers Association brewery sales in a typical year. The study led Forbes to predict a possible “collapse” of microbrews should conditions continue.

Down in the trenches, the breweries may be bailing water on the Titanic but they’re trying hard. And others are sublimating the energy they might normally be employing in customer service to making charitable contributions. Here’s what some enterprising and generous beer crafters are doing in the U.S. in the time of corona.

•  7 Hills Brewing in Dubuque, Iowa

Beginning with the basics, then. 7 Hills remains open but is only offering takeout, curbside takeout and delivery – but in a very nice nod to the overworked medical professionals in their city, 7 Hills offers free full growlers of beer for any healthcare provider just by showing proper ID.

•  Rally Cap Brewing in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Seeing the writing on the wall early, Rally Cap shut its doors to the public a week before the government called for personal quarantine – or rather, just the front door, for they set up at the back a beer stand. Any of Rally Cap’s beers may be had to-go in single pint cans, four-packs or even draft.

•  Brickway Brewery and Distillery in Omaha, Nebraska

Brickway hasn’t entirely forsaken brewing beer for making hand sanitizer, but the sales they’re making on the essential item of 2020 has resurrected business to the point where not only has management been able to re-employ laid-off employees, they were recently able to give away gallons of the stuff to customers who brought in containers.

•  San Tan Brewing Company in Arizona

Likewise, Sun Tan has gotten into hand sanitizer production – but with the added karma points generated by actually recycling beer. Stuck with a lot of expired beer on their hands when restaurants and other outlets cancelled orders, Sun Tan ownership simply … turned it into hand sanitizer; other breweries should take note of this quite excellent solution.

Let’s just hope that the enterprising efforts of these clever and good-hearted folks manage to keep their business afloat. The truth is that whether you’re eating out, watching a ball game, playing casino games or just hanging out, hand sanitizer is no substitute for beer…