When the tap shut off, it shut off quick.
“We lost 100% of our tap beer business overnight,” said Kyle Marti, vice president of Schell’s Brewing in New Ulm.
When the governor last week ordered all bars and restaurants in the state to close indefinitely, virtually all tap beer sales went away.
Breweries are switching more production to bottles and cans.
Tim Tupy of Mankato Brewery said they are still offering carry-out growler and crowler tap beer sales — something allowed under the governor’s order — but the loss of business from bars buying kegs has been a big loss. But, he said, liquor stores have seen an increase in business.
“We’re just trying to fill orders for our retailers.”
Mankato Brewery’s taproom is open for growler sales Tuesday-Friday from 4-8 p.m. and Saturday from 12-4 p.m. They are posting updates on their website.
LocAle Brewing Company in Mankato is also offering growlers & crowlers to-go, including curbside pick-up. Online ordering is available as well.
Marti said they are doing a balancing act, trying to keep brewing some beer for kegs in hopes the bar and restaurant closures don’t last too long, while also ramping up production of bottles and cans and keeping their employees safe.
“We moved to just one shift and we’re doing the social distancing,” Marti said.
“We’ve changed a majority of our production to cans and bottles. We’re seeing a lot consumers shifting to buying 24-packs (in liquor stores). It’s that unknown, so they’re stocking up. The liquor stores tell us they are seeing panic buying.”
Marti said they’re also worried about all the bars they’ve worked with over the years. “A lot of them have a tough time in January and February anyway and now they’re closed. Some might not open again if this goes long.”
Despite the general gloom, Marti said they’ve heard of some stay-at-home folks who are being creative now that they can’t do pub crawls, where people go from one pub to another to try different beers.
“Now they’re putting a different beer in each room of their house and going from room-to-room. It’s a pub crawl except you’re not in a group and you’re in your house.”
If the governor makes a shelter-in-place order, it’s not yet clear which businesses would be deemed “essential” and allowed to stay open. Already health workers, grocery stores, pharmacies, media outlets and many others have been declared essential services.
But what about liquor stores? Several states that have shelter-in-place orders have allowed liquor stores to stay open.
“Some people may not want to think so, but if people are holed up at home I think (liquor stores) are going to be essential,” Marti said.