Area breweries reopening tap rooms slowly and cautiously
The agility and innovation in our hospitality industry, specifically our breweries, has been awe-inspiring. To go from a potentially record-setting first-quarter to a total shutdown to curbside-only ordering – often making adjustments with less than a day's notice – is impressive.
So it should come as little surprise that when Florida's Department of Business and Professional Regulation announced the requirements for Phase 1 reopening, our breweries were ready. They have been working fervently to provide the safest environment for employees and customers while maintaining that convivial tasting room atmosphere we all love.
There will be a few changes as we begin the cautious climb toward fully reopening. You're going to see additional attention paid to social distancing, sanitation, the flow and clustering of people and minimizing of shared surfaces. Expect to see gloves, masks, new ordering/payment processes, updated seating arrangements, single-use cups and utensils, and ample hand sanitizer.
In a great Facebook post, Proof Brewing Company reminded us all that we're in this thing together, and that breweries will need your help for procedures to be effective.
Best practices would have customers practice social distancing, maintain good hand hygiene, wait for tables to be bused and sanitized, be patient, keep foot traffic to a minimum, make reservations for larger groups, and most importantly, stay home if feeling under the weather.
Additionally, our breweries have rearranged seating in compliance with CDC and state guidelines, meaning patrons should not rearrange tables and chairs or try to sit at the bar.
If we work together to maintain a safe environment, hopefully we'll get back to toasting life's significant events – or just sharing a beer with our buds – in tasting rooms across the country.
Lake Tribe Brewing Company
We've always said the vibe at Lake Tribe's taproom is unique. Still, we never considered that more than 90% of its seats are outdoors. With two individual patio areas and a large main deck, all that beautiful open-air seating has been reconfigured to accommodate 6-foot or more spacing between tables.
The brewery at 3357 Garber Drive has launched a new system on laketribebrewing.square.site allowing you to reserve any of the spacious, safe seating throughout the outdoor patios. Additionally, table service via a dedicated staff member is available upon request.
Beginning Friday, Tribe will have local food trucks on-site to serve all your favorites – familiar faces like Rankin Tacos, Pineappetit, Street Chefs and RikSha Tacos. Seating will be primarily outside with limited overflow to the brewery's Wild Woods Room. The taproom remains closed for seating.
Ology Brewing Company
To say head brewer Nick Walker and the Ology Brewing crew have been busy recently might be an understatement. Between opening their new northside location (2910 Kerry Forest Parkway), shifting their distilling operation to produce hand sanitizer, and deftly guiding the day-to-day operations of the brewery, things have been running at a blistering pace. Ology has also been working on plans for its upcoming three-year anniversary celebration. Ology has not yet released a date for opening its tasting room.
Deep Brewing Company
Deep Brewing Company returns to action on June 6, with more than a few surprises in store. The most significant change will be a reservation system and full integration with the Slide Hustle, its resident food truck.
For June, seating in Deep's 2524 Cathay Court tasting room will be only by reservation, which will become available on June 3 at reserve.deepbrewing.com and can be made up to a month in advance. In addition to reduced capacity and appropriately distanced seating, Deep will have full wait staff and provide table service to prevent clustering at the bar.
Slide Hustle owner Justo Cruz will also be launching a new menu featuring small plates, appetizers, sandwiches and more. Reservations in Deep's tasting room will require a small deposit, which will include a sampler of the latest dishes Cruz will be selling.
Poof Brewing Company
On Friday, Proof's 1320 S. Monroe St. tasting room will open alongside its partner Proper, the on-site restaurant. Proof will continue to offer curbside pick-up service for online orders and will have reserved parking spots for those guests. Proof outlined an extensive list of updated procedures and considerations as it opens its tasting room, and it's worth reviewing at proofbrewingco.com.
Eastpoint Beer Company (Eastpoint)
Eastpoint has been one of the quieter breweries throughout this ordeal, with owner/head brewer Josh Parker opting to step back from the day-to-day changes regarding beer sales and focus primarily on shoring up brewery infrastructure. The brewery at 374 US-98 in Eastpoint plans to reopen on June 13 with several upgrades to both the brewhouse and outdoor areas.
Oyster City Brewing Company (Apalachicola)
Apalachicola's “incredible engine that could” doesn't have an opening date yet, but if there's one thing we're sure of, it’s that head brewer Clayton Mathis and team are working around the clock get things ready. When asked for an expected date, Clayton kept it simple: "Soon! We're working to reopening very soon." Good news for Oyster City devotees is cans of its delicious brews are sold in numerous area locations.
Matthew Crumbaker is co-founder of the TLH Beer Society, a group of avid craft beer lovers. He is also a co-host of Saturday Morning Bottle Share on 97.9 ESPN radio. Follow TLH Beer Society at Facebook.com/TLHBeerSociety or @TLHBeerSociety on Twitter and Instagram. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.