Happy end of April, we survived a full month of quarantine. I hope everyone is staying healthy, safe, and relatively sane. Needless to say, most of the links this month have to do with COVID-19, and it’s effect on the brewing industry. Earlier this month I wrote some thoughts of my own on life right now, how it is affecting me personally, how it is impacting the local brewing industry, and things I am doing to try to power through this difficult time. Thanks to all of my readers who take the time to read my posts and chat/comment/like/share on social media, it adds a nice dose of normalcy in times that are anything but.
The Mass Brew Bros asked a large number of local breweries how the COVID-19 shutdown was impacting their business and how they felt about the future of the local beer industry. The responses were surprisingly positive, but I do wonder if there is some selection bias, where the breweries that are really struggling decided not to respond. Gary Dzen also has an article on how closing taprooms has hurt local breweries.
The issues stemming from the shutdown are effecting the industry nationwide. The Brewers Association has some stark numbers on the impact of the shutdown on breweries, including predictions that a large percentage of breweries will close this year if social distancing continues without significant bailout measures. Beervana notes that some larger craft breweries with large retail footprints have actually seen a bump in sales, but the shutdown has been devastating to small breweries that rely on their taprooms. VinePair asked a number of owners how they are getting by under the current circumstances, with some interesting responses.
One of my favorite pieces this month: Beth Demmon writes about the struggle to find community during COVID-19. I trend towards being an introvert and a homebody, but I still really miss my occasional visits to breweries and bars, and I also miss the times getting together with friends for a beer and some laughs. I know I won’t take those experiences for granted again when this is over.
Ultra-popular New York brewery Other Half has started the All Together project, a shared beer recipe that any brewery can make with a portion of the proceeds benefiting hospitality professionals impacted by COVID-19. I’ve seen numerous local breweries announce that they are participating, can’t wait to try some of the beers!
Wachusett has also partnered with Atlas Distributing to launch Glory IPA, with a portion of the proceeds benefiting the local United Way.
The Eco-Friendly Beer Drinker, a project started by Rob from the Mass Brew Bros, has launched a new website. If you are interested in sustainable practices in the beer industry this will be an invaluable resource. One of his first articles profiles 10 breweries where every day feels like Earth Day.
Massachusetts is now allowing restaurants to sell alcohol as part of to-go orders. This is an enormous help for restaurants known for their beer service. A great example is Armsby Abbey in Worcester, who is taking advantage of the program to provide patrons with beers from their renowned taplist, including selections from Hill Farmstead.
Pints and Panels is doing a special on her #BeersImGladExist commissioned prints. You choose your favorite beer and she does an original drawing, with a portion going to Direct Relief. I commissioned the drawing above of one of my all time favorites, Pretty Things Jack D’Or, planning on getting a print framed soon.
With bars and taprooms closed there is a huge amount of kegged beer going stale. Some breweries are “extending” the best-by dates on their kegs, which doesn’t seem like a great solution. Others have found better solutions. Both Sam Adams and a group of breweries in Maine are teaming with distilleries to turn the beer into ethanol for hand sanitizer.
With taprooms shutdown some breweries are expanding distribution to new states in order to sell more beer. We’ve seen some sporadic Bissell Brothers drops in Massachusetts, and now Alchemist is distributing some of their beers in the Boston area. It will be interesting to see if these changes continue post-quarantine.
Boston Magazine had their third annual Malt Madness tournament, and the winner was Definitive Brewing out of Portland, Maine! Good timing for Definitive too, as they recently announced that they are opening a new taproom in Kittery.
Aeronuat Brewing has an informative post on the history of the New England style IPA on their blog.
Hill Farmstead is celebrating 10 years in business. I am sure there would be special events and beers under other circumstances, hopefully they can have a blow-out party for year 11.
That is it for April. Thank you again for following Hoppy Boston and reading my posts, writing the blog and interacting on social media has been a huge help as I try to keep it together during these crazy times. I hope you are all staying healthy and enjoying some delicious beers in quarantine!