Supporting local beer now is more important than ever
Well, this sucks.
And by "this," we mean a lot of different things.
It sucks that coronavirus cases in Florida have spiked. It sucks that this will lead to more sickness and likely more deaths. And it sucks that the great citizens of Florida are being faced with such a dire situation that's creating a chaotic vortex of unknowns swirling about.
This is first and foremost.
But since the "Around The Brew Bend" column is a bi-weekly report on about craft beer — specifically the local craft beer scene — we're here to address why this also really sucks for our area craft breweries, all of whom had re-opened over the last few weeks during Phase 2 of Florida's plan, only to be shut down once again last week Friday by the Department of Business and Professional Regulation.
We don't need to rehash why this happened or the technicalities involved in the decision to close craft breweries, while allowing other gathering spots to remain open and operating at 50% capacity — the Democrat's Karl Etters already explained it.
But the long and short of it is because Florida craft breweries fall in the "bar" category (a debate for another day), here we are. Again.
Proof, Lake Tribe, Deep, Ology, Oyster City, Eastpoint and Southern Fields -- all of their tasting rooms shuttered for the second time in as many months. We hate it for them, their families, their loyal customers and their dreams of successful small business ownership, which are in jeopardy now with this latest order.
That's just the reality of the craft beer scene in Florida right now.
But that's the bad news. Here's the good: You can help.
Yes, you — and all your friends, and family members and acquaintances who enjoy craft beer and the community around it — can make a difference. But we have to start ASAP. Because, as the headline of this week's column says, "Supporting local now is more important than ever."
And that goes for anyone outside of Tallahassee who may read this; it's for every local community in Florida with a craft brewery.
Say it with us: "Supporting local NOW, is more important than EVER."
As a result of the second shutdown, each of the aforementioned breweries -- and their counterparts across the state -- have once again pivoted and adjusted their business models back to online, to-go ordering and curbside pickup. And our support of this business model is imperative.
Is it ideal? No. Is it sustainable long-term? Heck no. But can it keep good people employed, keep the lights on, keep the doors (figuratively) open and help craft breweries limp into what we hope are brighter days ahead?
But don't just take it from us, take it from one of the guys who started the craft brewery movement in 2012 in Tallahassee: Proof Brewing co-owner Byron Burroughs.
He's concerned for the future of Florida craft beer. And rightfully so.
"We understand the methodology of the shutdown — however shutting down one specific sector will not be successful in stemming the spread. This is particularly troubling as we and other breweries had just started hiring again and could see the light at the end of the tunnel, but now we are closed with no timeline or financial mechanism of support in place," Burroughs said. "We are eternally grateful to the local community getting beer from us to go and to our retail and hospitality partners that continue to support us and buy our products. It means everything to all of us right now."
And there ya have it. This is the hand that craft breweries have been dealt, and — to use a poker analogy — rather than fold 'em, they're trying to hold 'em with everything they've got.
Now, it's up to us.
We all have to go all-in on online and to-go sales. And we have to go all-in on enjoying a drink outside the tasting rooms for a little while. And we need to go all-in on safely drinking at home or with friends at a safe distance.
All we can really do from here is give you a guide — an online craft brewery map, of sorts — in one place to help you do this. So here's where you can find area craft beer to-go right now in and around Tallahassee.
- Proof Brewing: ProofBrewingCo.com/Store
- Deep Brewing: pickup.deepbrewing.com
- Lake Tribe Brewing: laketribebrewing.square.site
- Ology Brewing: ologybrewing.com
- Oyster City Brewing: oystercitybrewing.smartonlineorder.com
- Eastpoint Beer Company: Call-in orders (850) 815-5185
- Southern Fields Brewing: southernfieldsbrewing.com/Shop
Even if it's just a 6-pack, or a T-shirt, or a growler fill — every little bit counts right now for our area craft breweries. We hope they all pull through this crazy, uncertain time.
Until then, cheers to a better tomorrow, Tallahassee.
Danny Aller is the co-founder of the TLH Beer Society, a group of avid craft beer lovers. Reach the Beer Society on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.