Ninety-nine barrels of beer down the drain, ninety-nine barrels of beer, dump it down, straight underground, what was the point of that beer going down? Ok, it was only 30 barrels (930 gallons), but still. It’s probably not the last of the beer we’ll have to sacrifice to the trench drain gods during the mandated shutdown.
Just so there’s no confusion, we are 100% on board with the government-mandated shutdown as a result of the global spread of Covid19. In fact, we are grateful that Governor Walz has demonstrated such effective leadership with an evidence-based approach during this unprecedented crisis.
There are certain realities, however, that businesses like ours must face as a result of losing more than 60% of our revenues since the mandated closure of bars, restaurants, and taprooms took effect on March 17. Our distribution channels have been severely curtailed, and we sit with our hands tied on a backlog of beer aging in tanks, along with pallets of perishable beer packaged in 12oz and 16oz cans.
We were very much hoping the Minnesota Legislature would do us a solid and include relief for craft breweries in the bill that was passed last week that temporarily expanded the to-go alcohol options for bars/restaurants. Unfortunately, however, the Legislature seems to have turned a blind eye to our industry’s needs. In case you aren’t aware, Minnesota is one of the only states (maybe THE only state) in the country that does not allow craft breweries to sell 4-packs or 6-packs of their own beer from their own taprooms. For the past few years, Minnesota’s craft breweries have been stepping up the pressure on the Legislature to get rid of this antiquated and legislatively uncommon prohibition.
We can appreciate that there are other angles to this issue. But craft breweries have been hit just as hard as bars and restaurants as a result of the shutdown. By allowing taprooms to temporarily sell 12oz or 16oz packages for take-out, breweries like ours would be able to at least attempt to sell beer that is already packaged or ready to be packaged, and that our distribution and retail partners are not purchasing and will not likely purchase prior to its expiration date.
For beer that is still sitting in tanks, you might be wondering why we can’t just package it in crowlers or growlers and call it a day. Believe it or not, there has essentially been a run on growlers nationally, and the supply is dwindling. Some breweries will soon run out of their growler inventories. Although crowlers are more widely available, it is vastly more labor intensive and costly to package beer in crowlers than in 12oz or 16oz cans. Without relief from the Legislature that would temporarily allow us to sell a range of package sizes that includes 12oz and 16oz packages, dumping beer down the drain will unfortunately become routine practice not just for Bauhaus, but for virtually every packaging brewery in the state that is sitting on packaged or ready-to-be-packaged product.
If you want Minnesota’s craft breweries to survive the Covid19 crisis, please reach out to your legislators to ask for their support in temporarily expanding the to-go options for taprooms to include 12oz or 16oz packages. You can look up your legislators here: https://www.gis.leg.mn/iMaps/districts/.
In the meantime, please support local breweries – that means buying fresh crowlers and growlers from the source and choosing local when you’re at your neighborhood bottle shop. EVERY BEER COUNTS.