The COVID-19 lockdowns have affected breweries, and the beer business at large, rather acutely. As the pandemic broke out, all restaurants, pubs and public institutions were ordered shut by governments around the world. What did this mean for the beer business and how have ways of doing business changed for brewers and breweries in the aftermath? Let’s find out.
The Stay at Home Orders Affected On-Site Sales
Breweries in the US were forced to discontinue on-site taproom sales due to legal notifications mandating so. Taproom production has converted to production intended for packaging in aluminum cans and glass containers. Curbside pickup and delivery services have been introduced to meet with the challenges placed upon breweries in the light of the pandemic and strict social distancing norms. The situation had become so dire that many breweries had to resort to asking for federal aid.
Many Workers Were Asked to Furlough
A majority of attendants and helpers at brewery taprooms were asked to go on furlough. As social distancing became unavoidable, there was no need for as many employees overlooking operations any longer. Breweries had to begrudgingly look at ordering their helping hands to take furlough in a last-ditch attempt to minimize their losses.
Breweries Used Single-Use Disposables for Serving Taproom Customers
Before on-premise serving restrictions were put into place and enforced diligently, a handful of brewery taprooms tried to utilize single-use disposable containers to serve guests. Physical distancing norms were followed as per government directions, but this only lasted for a while.
Breweries Had to Destroy Batches of Brewed Beer
Many breweries followed a marketing model which focused on making available freshly brewed draft beer to customers. While this business model was largely popular, it failed to bring in any profits for brewers and breweries in the pandemic lockdown. These brewers and breweries had to proceed to destroy batches of beer that they had produced. Even when crowler and other take-away sales began, they couldn’t make up for the fall in demand for freshly brewed beer.
The Pandemic May Have Changed the Craft Beer Space Forever
Until now, most brewers wanted to offer a beer drinking experience that provided their customers with various unique fresh brews on tap. However, once the pandemic hit the world, this was no longer a feasible plan of action. The only way a brewery could survive was to begin takeaway facilities for visiting customers, as socializing with a cold brew in the brewery taproom seemed like a distant dream.
Months have passed, and breweries are still struggling to come to terms with the losses they’ve incurred over the lockdown period. Additionally, the pandemic has also forced beer enthusiasts to mold their beer drinking behaviour. More and more customers are preferring to order beer delivery where possible from their chosen breweries than to visit the location amid the virus-contraction risk. As we all know, customer behavior is subject to changes over time. Perhaps, this is the end of the taproom? We sure hope it isn’t. After all, lounging around a brewery with a delicious cold brew in the company of your best friends is an experience nobody should have to miss out on!