Here's How to Best Support Your Local Breweries Right Now

support breweries during coronavirus outbreak
Courtesy of Threes Brewing
Courtesy of Threes Brewing

It's no secret that with the closures of business all across the country due to the COVID-19 outbreak, lots of local businesses have been left with uncertain futures. It's not clear when they'll be able to reopen, how they can continue to support staff members, and whether smaller shops will be able to weather the difficult times everyone is facing. 

Nonetheless, while you practice social distancing on your couch, you probably still want to have a beer. That itself can be an act of supporting your local brewery, which faces many of the same challenges restaurants and other local establishments are looking at. Just like your favorite neighborhood restaurants and cafes, your go-to local breweries need your help right now too.

When reached by Thrillist, Evan Sallee, CEO of Fair State Brewing Cooperative in Minnesota, says many breweries are first and foremost concerned about their staff and slowing the outbreak.

"We take our staff's health and the public's health incredibly seriously," Sallee says. "So, I think it's incredibly important for folks to abide by the guidance to make sure that we can flatten the curve so this is over as quickly as possible. That's one of the biggest things folks can do to help."

Nonetheless, there are still things you can do to support the craft breweries you love beyond following the guidance of scientists and medical professionals. 

Buy direct from the brewery

The rules are different across the country, both in regard to preexisting laws and rules enacted in response to the pandemic. However, many breweries are still able to sell growlers, crowlers, or cans right out of the brewery or taproom.

Josh Stylman of Threes Brewing in Brooklyn notes that it's offering no-touch pickup, where you can order your beer online, and stop in to pick it up with distance kept from employees at all times. They aren't the only brewery with programs like this, so it's worth checking which taprooms in your area have contactless pickup options.

Buy local beers from delivery services or stores

Your favorite spot may not be around the corner or even in the same city, so look for other ways you can continue to purchase beer from local makers wherever possible.

"Buying our beers at liquor stores is also incredibly important," Sallee of Fair State Brewing Cooperative says. "Our distributor partners throughout the state are going to be sitting on inventory of ours. So, anything that can keep that pipeline moving is really, really important for us."

Stylman also points out that delivery services like Caviar and even big-chain markets carry local beer and you can opt to buy local and continue to support the craft breweries that will have a tougher time coming out on the other side of the outbreak as healthy as the macro-breweries. 

If you order beer (or anything!) for delivery, don't forget to tip well. 

Get a gift card or other goods from the brewery

Like with restaurants, gift cards are a great way to help keep a brewery going. It gives them something to work with now, and it gets you something to enjoy later. Many breweries also have other items you can purchase beyond beer. They may sell shirts, koozies, hats, and other merchandise that can go towards directly supporting the business and the employees. 

Some breweries also have other options like Fair State's membership program. Every brewery will be a little different, but it's a great time to see what kind of other offerings your local craft brewers have cooked up.

Advocate for your local brewery

This one doesn't cost you anything but a few minutes of your time.

"There are a ton of businesses out there like us that are facing this problem," says Sallee. "Breweries large and small are going to be facing a crunch. I've already heard about layoffs. I've heard rumors of closings already. It's going to get bad out there really quickly. One thing that every person can do without spending a dime that would really enormously support our breweries is to pick up the phone and call their legislator, state and federal. Ask them to put in measures that are going to support breweries, restaurants, and retailers through this trouble."

It's a little thing that can help that brewery you love and, importantly, the staffs that make these gathering places possible.

"I'm equally if not more worried about our team," Stylman says. "I don't know what's going to happen. I don't know how, without a massive relief package, how they're going to make ends meet."

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Dustin Nelson is a Senior Staff Writer at Thrillist. Follow him @dlukenelson.