COVID-19 and Craft Beer

In Florida, we are living in some crazy times. Actually, that’s all of us, all over the United States this year. 2020 is a whole new level of crazy.

However, right now in Florida, breweries have a very serious problem: they’re closed. Again. The second time, they had no warning and no time to prepare.

Shortly after the initial outbreak of Coronavirus (COVID-19), breweries had to close and were only functioning via to-go sales in crowlers, canned packs, and growler fills. If you didn’t have a crowler machine or some kind of canning operation, you had to drop some money on one and find some cans and educate your staff quickly on how to operate the machine and implement this on the fly. What little staff you had left, anyway…

That lasted for maybe almost two months, and then here in Florida, breweries found they were allowed to open. This lasted for what seemed like a second.

We are currently experiencing some record-breaking numbers of testing and positive cases of the virus, all the while with tons of businesses being open, including theme parks.

Meanwhile, our local breweries are suffering. Taprooms still have to remain closed.

Why?

Because they only serve alcohol. And if you don’t have an operating food license, you simply can’t be open for business. You have to keep pushing out beer to-go.

Please, do not look at this as “well people should be staying home anyway.” Tell that to Governor Ron DeSantis.

The point of this is not whether or not certain businesses should be open; in particular, businesses that strictly operate on the sales of alcohol consumption on-site, but rather the fact that many other businesses are functioning and open simply because they serve food.

A local news station showed a clip recently of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis stating you are five times as likely to catch the virus in a restaurant than walking around outside.

He doesn’t seem too concerned with the COVID-19 data for a myriad of reasons, so everything he’s doing is from an economic standpoint. And right now, all those decisions he’s made are crippling our craft beer industry.

I’m a new parent. My son is less than a year old. I have high-risk family members whom I do not want to spread this disease to because they could die. I’m personally okay with staying home, but I am also okay that people are going out to the theme parks and other places that are currently open.

It is so unfair and hypocritical, though, that breweries are being singled out because they don’t have a food license, so they are forced to shut their doors.

WHAT HAPPENED TO SUPPORTING LOCAL BUSINESSES THAT ARE DIRECT CONTRIBUTORS TO LOCAL ECONOMIES?

This decision makes NO SENSE. How about we single out the bars that are not complying with the CDC guidelines and allow breweries to open up, even if it’s only at 50% capacity?

Or maybe we should provide breweries or any places that only serve alcohol a prioritized strategy to apply for some kind of business loan so they don’t have to close their doors. I don’t know. I’m no expert on any of this, but I firmly believe we are only hurting our local businesses by this poorly and hastily-made decision to “slow the spread” of COVID-19.

If strip clubs can be open and socially distanced (wow, what a time to be alive) until 2 AM simply because they serve chicken tenders with some fancy dijon honey mustard while other places are closed, surely a brewery taproom could operate at 50% capacity. If restaurants can be open, where this virus would spread like crazy, how does it make sense to keep restaurants open and not these other places?

Why do bars/breweries that only serve alcohol have to suffer? Don’t they have families to feed and put a roof over their heads, too?

I understand this is an extremely difficult year to navigate, especially if you are running a business. We have a lot of other problems to work through at the moment.

Logical decision making apparently doesn’t apply in these scenarios, though.

Let the breweries open up. Create a plan. Make something happen. Wash your hands and do your due diligence to be a good human being and try to protect the vulnerable. WEAR A MASK. This isn’t about you, it’s about other people, in every aspect you can think of.

And before you let your friend who doesn’t like craft beer go to your local grocery store and buy a 6 pack of a certain light rice lager, please explain to them what they’re doing and how they could help a local family pay bills buy drinking their beer.

If they don’t like the beer, they can chug it and know they’re contributing to paying someone’s grocery bill.

Who would think in 2020 you’d be saving the world by drinking beer?

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