Beer in the Time Of COVID-19

beer to go

So it seemed like an appropriate time to dust off and un-retire this little space on the internet. How the world has changed.

For those just tuning in,we are in the middle of a global pandemic known as COVID-19, or “coronavirus”.

As of today, there are nearly 220,000 confirmed cases and nearly 9000 deaths spread over 169 countries around the world.

In the Unites States, there are over 10,000 cases with around 150 deaths spreading over all 50 states plus DC and 3 territories.

In Florida, there are 520 cases with 10 deaths.

All of these numbers are going to go up, without question.

Nationwide, restrictions are being put in place to stem the spread of the virus and mitigate further infection. “Social Distancing” is going to be the phase of the year, for sure. Large gatherings are mostly banned, and there is a very real economic threat looming.

Like many states, Florida has essentially closed all bars and nightclubs for at least 30 days. Restaurants have heavy restrictions on operating hours and capacity. Public beaches in many areas are now closed. With Florida’s dependence on tourism for revenue, you can see how catastrophic things could be.

It is especially challenging for Florida’s small and independent craft breweries. Most of them operate a taproom which makes up the bulk of their revenue. Some also have on-premise food so they can operate like a restaurant, and there are those that also have beer in distribution. But all derive the majority of their cash flow from tasting room sales. The executive order from Governor DeSantis on March 17 that closed bars and nightclubs was also blanketly applied to breweries at first, creating a lot of confusion about whether or not they could continue to-go sales of beer (like growlers, crowlers, and other packaging). The Florida Brewers Guild worked directly with the Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) to get clarification on this, ultimately confirming that breweries could, in fact, sell their goods to go.

This is where my call to action comes in.

Now, more than ever, small businesses need you. My focus is on the breweries, but this goes for the small, local restaurants, bottle shops, and stores as well. I know most people are practicing “social distancing” and avoiding large groups, as well you should. I also know people still need to go to the store to buy the things they need, and that people still want their beer. I would suggest that by swinging by your local brewery for your beer purchase you are not only helping keep these small independent businesses afloat, but this is far less exposure to other people than the grocery store.

While my immediate concern is Florida breweries, this is true in all states. So no matter where you live, please do what you can to keep our industry alive. These are unprecedented times.  Check with your state brewers guilds for resources on how to help, as well as find your local breweries and see what they are doing and making available.


Please support your local breweries. They are a critical part of our community and the economy of our cities.

For folks in the Tampa Bay area (and hopefully the rest of Florida soon), please check out my friend Geiger’s site. He is doing this for the love of the industry. Kick him a few bucks if you can, too.


Stay safe out there, folks. Be smart. This is not a joke, it is not a hoax, and it is not “under control” yet. Together, we can get through this. As a community we can help keep our neighbors safe and businesses open.


Bartender is pouring beer into glass

~ by Sean Nordquist on March 20, 2020.

2 Responses to “Beer in the Time Of COVID-19”

  1. Well stated Sean. Thank you for this post!

    While many of us are involved partially (either as an extension of our jobs or for the love of craft) you rightly point out that this is a case of sick or swim for so many whose sole existence is dependent on our now shuttered hospitality industry (think about living check to check on a bare bones income!)

    If you’re lucky enough to have been spared and are still earning an income, be grateful!

    There is so much stress today that can be alleviated by a simple, supportive change in our consumer spending (if you’re one of the lucky ones!)

    You are absolutely right about supporting our local businesses to stay afloat and if you’ll permit me to add to your words. We can all help out by:

    1. Buying to go products even if they cost slightly more! $5 more cost to you for a take out meal or a 6 pack of beer can mean all the difference to small breweries and restaurants. Look for and join in on virtual concert events and throw the business some tips!

    Breweries and restaurants are working round the clock to provide meals, beer, and other items that we’ve always enjoyed…(Ubereats even offers some free deliveries!)

    Geiger’s list that you quoted is a great source of breweries in the Tampa Bay area that are still open for to go orders.

    2. Buy gift certificates today that can be used down the road. Cashflows are going to be urgent so buy now and plan to use in 6 months.

    3. Use your network to connect to what’s needed in your local area… Food banks are depleted and are seeking donations and non perishables. Share your cupboard with items you can spare.

    4. Be kind. This isn’t the time for politics or profit or getting ahead. If you’re fortunate to still have your job/income, you enjoy good health, and are remaining calm, congratulations.

    Sadly, others are not as fortunate, and even a smile or an extra dollar or kind gesture can make someone’s day. We’re all in this together and need to give each other a hand up.

    Again, thanks for your leadership Sean.

    To your health,

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