State by state, for better or worse, breweries, bars and restaurants are beginning to reopen at limited capacity. For most brewery owners and employees, this is a huge relief from the perspective of staying afloat. On the other hand, it poses a host of new challenges moving forward, as we work towards returning to normal
In most places around the country, the 6-foot social distancing rule is a must. A rough 50% capacity has become a bit of a norm as well, in an effort to prevent eating and drinking establishments from overcrowding. One of the most unique challenges posed to breweries that do not serve food is that most of the local ordinances being pushed through right now require liquor-licensed establishments to serve food in order to reopen, which just isn’t in the cards. Many breweries have formed symbiotic relationships with rotations of food trucks that provide homestyle snacks and meals to their customers, providing an avenue to feed the craft beer enthusiasts without jumping through all the hoops of opening a foodservice establishment, while simultaneously providing a regular venue and crowd for the food trucks.
Whatever it takes to reopen is what breweries nationwide are pushing to do. Take Russian River Brewing, the proud purveyors of the fabled Plinys (both Elder and Younger): they have had to take this all in stride. According to their website, their Santa Rosa and Windsor brewpubs have reopened for business at limited capacity with reworked floor plans, seating charts, and plexiglass shields set up to protect both staff and customers alike. On the other hand, their beer gardens, being alcohol-service only, have been forced to remain closed until beer can be served without a meal requirement again.
Whatever the challenge, brewers and beer people will always rise to the occasion. Without passion for the product and love for the craft and process, you don’t have craft beer. It is an industry that inherently attracts go-getters and resourceful workers who can think on their toes. With original projections showing devastating brewery closures across the nation, it seems that the beer boys are standing tall and fighting through.