What Craft Beverage and Restaurant Fans Can Do to Help During this Period

What Craft Beverage and Restaurant Fans Can Do to Help During this Period

by Mark E. Lasbury for Indiana On Tap

Whether it’s from the SARS-CoV-2 (the scientific name of the new coronavirus) or the public/private reactions to it, we’ve entered a short period of uncertainty in our economic and public health. It doesn’t matter if you agree or not with the measures taken by individuals or government representatives, they will affect you for a good period of time into the future, perhaps on a health level, most decidedly on an economic level.

The point is to find the balance between health concerns and economic concerns. This may seem callous, but please know that if the economy is greatly affected, publicly funded measures to help people beyond healthcare be devastated as well. The COVID-19 infection isn’t the only way that this coronavirus will take lives, a severe and lasting economic downturn will kill just as many or more people due to lack of services and lack of support.

Drinking local includes when you can’t get to the taproom. image credit: Oklahoma craft beer festival

All businesses will be affected, either directly or tangentially, and we as craft beer fans should realize that this will include breweries. Service industries like bars, restaurants, and breweries are even more vulnerable to SARS-CoV-2 effects because they can be on both levels – health and economic. Few industries put the business in closer contact with groups of the public, and few industries are more voluntary in patronage; in times of economic strife, the first thing people give up is going to the dentist in non-emergency situations, but right up there would be going to restaurants or bars/taprooms at the same rate.

Restaurants, taprooms, bars, breweries, wineries, etc. want to protect their workers from unnecessary exposures, but they also want to protect those same peoples’ jobs by remaining economically viable. There are no easy choices, and no definitive right or wrong ways to handle the situation. Suspending taproom, bar, and restaurant sit-down business might protect employees and patrons better, but if there’s no job (or fewer jobs) to come back to later, then has it been worth it for an infection that is asymptomatic or mild in 85% of cases? Finding the balance is dang near impossible when so little is known. I’ve never been so glad that something isn’t my decision to have to make.

Vulnerable populations can self-quarantine, but economically vulnerable employees cannot (if not sick); they are at the mercy of employers and government. This makes the decisions made by business owners and governmental officials all the more difficult. It’s a fact that breweries have the community’s best interests at heart – the articles we have written here for years make that undeniable. But breweries, brewery owners, and breweries staffs are made up of individuals, and individuals will have different approaches to a situation.

Many servers are economically vulnerable, so a shut down can affect them significantly. You might not normally tip on carryout, but you should right now. image credit: AZ Central

Different breweries would have had different programs in place to deal with this situation. However, much of this became moot when Gov. Holcomb mandated on Monday, March 16 that dining-in/drinking-in services at bars and restaurants be stopped through the end of March. Now what matters is how we support the industry(s) during this period.

There are still a few things we as craft beverage fans can do to help out the breweries, wineries, distilleries, and restaurants. Some are common sense, some work to increase public health safety, some to increase economic viability. The bottom line is to do your part – we’re still humans with the capacity to decide our own best courses of action. See if these suggestions work for you:

  1. Order carryout, delivery, or curbside service from your favorite brewpubs and restaurants.
  2. Many breweries/brewpubs will be offering gift cards or e-gift cards. Use the money that you would have spent in house to purchase the cards and then use them later or find places to which you can donate them.
  3. Many breweries will be doing their own deliveries to keep employees on the clock as much as possible. Tip on your carryout and/or delivery as you would have, or better than you would have, in the taproom in order to minimize the losses incurred by the servers.
  4. Are you buying a little extra beer to help out during this time? Give some to a neighbor or friend. You could help to create a new craft beer fan or two for after this is all over.
  5. Are you ordering delivery or takeout for yourself? Order something to be delivered to your favorite taproom for the employees or slip them a gift card when they bring beer to you. They need it and they’d appreciate it.
  6. Buy beer in carryout from your taprooms of choice when possible. Brewery profit margins are much better for beer they sell themselves, so buy at the brewery whenever possible. But if that isn’t possible, then buy from package beer stores.
  7. Purchase beer in growlers or crowlers if a brewery doesn’t package their beer. If you have a kegerator or can get access to a party pump tap, buy a keg.
  8. Buy a new growler so that you aren’t passing your property to them and then getting it back. This reduces chances of exposure for the employees.
  9. Buy brewery merchandise in a carry out fashion. That T-shirt or pint glass is marketing for them in the future, but it also helps defray losses immediately.
  10. Check the hours of carryout/delivery by breweries so your trips/phone calls are most productive.
  11. Be patient. This is new to everyone, so curbside, carryout, or delivery may take longer than you think it should. Allow for the unfamiliarity to dissipate over time. Stay frosty and flexible. It’s likely things will change again.
  12. Don’t get upset with people because your places aren’t open. This isn’t on them, it just is what it is.
  13. You’ve got time on your hands now – create some beer memes to help people laugh through this time, and be thinking of the beer names that are going to come out of this.
  14. Good luck – see you at the curb, the cash register, or at our front door.
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