Helping Our Craft Brewing Community During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Supporting Our Local BreweriesThe spirit of craft beer is rooted in community. Whether it was craft breweries in Florida who offered to fill water containers before a hurricane or making a beer a nationwide movement to uplift those affected by wildfire, craft brewers put community first. This time is different. The COVID-19 pandemic has affected public gatherings and taprooms have had to close making sharing a beer a challenge in itself.a

States like Ohio, California, Illinois, Washington, Massachusetts, New York, Kentucky, Indiana and onward are mandating certain restrictions on restaurants and bars or asking them to cease operations for a period due to COVID-19. Yesterday, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced an order that will temporarily shut down all bars and restaurants in Michigan, to take effect at 3 p.m yesterday.b

Reassuring The Public

Brewers are acting to reassure their communities that they will remain open and are operating to the highest standards of cleanliness. Brewers are, by practice and necessity, people who clean regularly to exacting standards. Austin, Texas brewer Jester King also reassured their community and closed with a note about the mission of craft breweries. “We hope to withstand any decline in business this may bring by conscientiously following these measures and keeping the spirit of Jester King alive in these challenging times… We want Jester King to continue being a place to get away from the stresses we endure each week to gather over world-class food and beer with friends and family.”a

Supporting The Beer Community During COVID-19

As breweries and many other small businesses are facing difficult times, the action of supporting your local brewery may change, but the spirit remains the same.  Breweries are no different than other small businesses and face many of the same challenges.

  1. Most importantly, if you’re sick, stay home. This cannot be understated. Follow the guidance of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and local health authorities by washing hands, not touching faces, and sneezing into a tissue or elbow.
  2. Buy Beer

    • It seems like a simple gesture, but that is how breweries make money. If possible, buy beer for a friend or family member, too. No one is sure how COVID-19 is going to play out, but supporting a brewery goes further than simply drinking from their taps. Many breweries already sell beer to go, where possible. If you can buy that beer at a fine beer store or bar/restaurant that serves growlers then that supports two businesses. These retailers are banking on enthusiasts’ demand for fine beers and they could be hurting during these times as well.
  3. Buy Gift Cards

    • This is like investing in a good time with friends and family in the future while helping your favorite beer purveyor in the present.
  4. Buy Brewery Gear

    • Many breweries have been affected by COVID-19 precautions and more people staying home. Supporting a brewery like this reminds the community about them and helps remind the community about the brewery and their place in the community.
    • Beyond buying beer, it is about keeping the spirit alive during this time of heightened awareness. Whether you do this at home or in a brewery is up to you.


New Holland Brewing, makers of famed Dragon’s Milk, released an excellent list of cleaning and safety protocols that it was implementing for its Michigan locations. It’s still a good list, worthy of review, as I’m sure we’ll see it again once breweries reopen. These come via President Brett VanderKamp, and they are a good example for breweries looking to stay open safely and professionally during this crazy moment in history. Via the New Holland website:

• Asking our team members to stay home if they show any symptoms of illness, or if they have recently been exposed to anyone else that is exhibiting symptoms. We kindly ask that our customers follow the same guidelines.

• Curtailing tours of our facilities for the time being. Refunds will be given to guests that have already purchased tour tickets.

• Increased sanitizing protocols for all common areas, such as door handles, light switches, table tops, bar tops, chairs, host stands, etc…

• Increased hand-washing requirements for staff

• Restroom inspections every 30 minutes to ensure that soap dispensers are fully stocked, along with paper towels and toilet paper

• Having hand sanitizer available at our host stands and server stations

• Asking our guests to refrain from standing behind or crowding each other at the bar

• Reducing guest capacity at each property to ensure that we are able to maintain our increased cleaning and sanitizing efforts while continuing to provide an exceptional customer service experience

• Modifying our seating: having less stools at the bar and more spacing between our seated guests to allow for social distancing

Everyone is navigating uncharted waters right now in reacting to COVID-19. Craft brewers are doing their best to reassure their community, and the community can reassure their craft brewers that we will support each other during COVID-19 just like always.

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