For a while, Lei Zhang was a team of one at Boxing Cat Brewery in Beijing, China. As head brewmaster, he kept things running during the COVID-19 lockdown, making sure beers were brewed and ready for home delivery. He helped design a new can made especially for takeaway services with ZX Ventures, and supported his brewpub operations team in offering safe, limited service. And Lei even pitched in for an online product launch for AB InBev colleagues who couldn’t travel to China.
“Our people are amazing,” he said. “We’re doing whatever’s needed so we can to be there for our neighbors and to support one another.”
Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, craft brewers around the world have had to adapt to a difficult environment unlike any they had ever imagined. Here’s a look at some of the inspiring and imaginative ways they’ve brought people together at a distance to continue serving their communities, their customers and each other.
More than beer
“We keep getting asked how we’ll keep up with business and also support our neighbors. The simple answer is: however we can,” said Hayes Humphreys, General Manager, Devils Backbone Brewing Company in Roseland, Virginia.
“We’re keeping the stores fully stocked, offering regional delivery for beer and family-style meals, and offering pay increases, perks and rewards to brewery-critical folks that can’t work from home. We couldn’t pull this off without them.”
Meanwhile, Platform Beer Co. is helping small businesses in Cleveland, Ohio stay afloat during challenging times by including locally made baked goods, crafts and more, along with their beer delivery.
In Asheville, North Carolina, Wicked Weed Brewing’s Pub and Cultura restaurant are donating nutritious meals for those who need it most through the local YMCA’s nutrition outreach efforts.
Here for the heroes
Around the world, we have also seen our craft brewers launch initiatives to benefit and celebrate everyday heroes in healthcare, first responders and front-line workers.
Blue Point Brewing Company, on New York’s Long Island, for example, is encouraging customers to #ToastYourHero on social media, with one person selected each week for a special gift delivery including a family sized meal, eight cases of beer and a gift card valid for a pint each time they visit the brewery through the end of the year.
And Breckenridge Brewery is inviting Coloradans to support first responders by donating a $10 meal from the Farm House Restaurant to to hospitals in Denver and Summit County. The brewery is matching up to 250 donations each month.
“Colorado, along with the rest of the world, is facing an unprecedented time of uncertainty, and in these tough times, the Breckenridge Brewery team believes that staying united and connected in our community is the best way to stay strong,” said Todd Usry, President of Breckenridge Brewery.
Bringing the brewpub experience home
In addition to matching donations and other contributions, our brewers have also embraced virtual opportunities, turning to e-commerce to keep consumers connected to the beverages they love. Michigan’s Virtue Cider, for example, launched their first-ever direct-to-consumer store, making their ciders available for shipping nationwide. They also donated a portion of sales proceeds to Chicago Hospitality United in support of hourly hospitality workers in Chicago.
An online Pub Pantry program from 10 Barrel Brewing Co in Bend, Oregon is offering dairy, vegetable, paper products and beer through the Toast Takeout App, enabling consumers to pick up their essentials and favorite brews in one easy stop.
While our customers can’t visit their favorite bars and restaurants, several breweries are bringing the brewpub experience to their fans’ homes. Washington’s Elysian Brewing has crowdsourced recommendations for the best “stay home” themed songs for custom playlists.
And in the UK, Camden Town Brewing launched the Bre.www.ery Bar on Instagram, which simulates the pub experience with trivia nights, live music, live comedy, and even a digital tip jar that goes to Hospitality Action, a UK group that offers support services to anyone in the hospitality industry—chefs, waiters, bartenders, sommeliers—to help them get back on their feet again.
Read more stories of community support from our craft breweries around the world, including BBC Cerveceria, La Virgen, Patagonia and Cervejaria Colorado.