The unprecedented situation presented by COVID-19 has created challenging times for all, with breweries as no exception. The small businesses of the New York state craft beer industry, as with many industries, are feeling the impact of necessary restrictions on public gatherings.
The potential short-term and long-term effects of COVID-19 on the state craft beer industry will be dependent on the actions of consumers and business owners, as well as local, state and federal policy makers, according to the New York State Craft Brewers Association (NYSBA) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting the industry through advocacy, education and marketing.
NYSBA is working closely with state policy makers to protect New York’s 5.4 billion-dollar craft beer industry, responsible for 20,000 jobs across the state.
After much negotiating between NYSBA and the state Liquor Authority, breweries can temporarily sell packaged beer in a closed, sealed container for curbside pickup and home delivery, officials said. All home delivery orders must be delivered by the licensee and/or their employees or by a licensed third-party delivery service and accompanied with the purchase of a food item. These rules are temporary and are due to expire on April 15 unless extended or reduced by the State Liquor Authority.
“We are very grateful for the quick action by the governor’s office and State Liquor Authority to reach out and offer help any way they could,” said Paul Leone, NYSBA executive director. “There are also a number of options in consideration to allow tax and loan payment deferments, no interest loans and the elimination of late payments on bills to name a few. Although this will not fill the financial loss in both jobs and revenue in the short term, it will help breweries survive in these unprecedented times.”
State authorities and breweries have been taking extreme precautions to keep craft beer safe and accessible to consumers statewide.
“We are still brewing and trying to have fun with it. Our primary focus is getting beer to our customers safely and effectively,” said Ethan Cox, NYSBA treasurer and president of Community Beer Works. “We are looking into methods for safe and effective home delivery services, however there are a lot of logistics involved.”
Craft breweries provide their communities with a place to gather, entertainment, food, and of course, fresh craft beer. In order to assist these small businesses, NYSBA is urging consumers to continue to purchase beer from local breweries via carry-out, curbside pickup and home delivery, as well as merchandise and gift certificates from breweries’ online stores.
To make it easier, the official New York state craft beer app, created by NYSBA and available for all mobile devices, lists which services state breweries are currently offering. The app features a map of every brewery in the state along with special hours, beer lists and more, found in the “details” section of each brewery’s profile.
Breweries across New York are also doing everything they can to continue operations and keep their staff employed, although many have already felt the impact, NYSBA said.
“The effects of the pandemic have been immediate and debilitating to our two brew pubs. We were forced to lay-off almost 90 employees yesterday,” said Chris Ericson, president of the NYSBA and owner of Lake Placid Pub & Brewery and Big Slide Brewery & Public House. “While to-go beer sales and to-go food sales are available, the amount of revenue that will generate is token at best.”
NYSBA will continue to provide information and guidance as this situation develops. Craft beer enthusiasts can visit www.thinkNYdrinkNY.com to learn how they safely access and support craft beer. Breweries and staff can refer to www.newyorkcraftbeer.com for industry updates.