Crises and hardship have a habit of bringing out the best and worst in people. The coronavirus pandemic is no exception. Thankfully, as a typically collaborative and cooperative community, the response from breweries, bars and other players in the beer industry, especially on the craft side, has been generally positive.
That said, not everyone has come down on the side of the angels. The large pub companies in the UK have shown their true colours again. Having argued for years that rent for tied pubs should be based on expected beer sales (and in some cases, inflating those expectations), they’ve now made an about face and feel that the pubs being closed is no reason for them not to pay rent.
The #nopubnorent campaign was started on Twitter to combat this hypocrisy and CAMRA have now started an initiative with the option to make your voice heard.
I’d like to focus on the positives though. So here are just some of the ways that beer businesses have shown their appreciation for key workers, come to the aid of their ‘competitors’ and generally found a way to make something good out of a bad situation.
Cloudwater Brew Co
Cloudwater have seemingly been doing everything they can, not only to ensure their own long-term survival but that of everyone around them.
When I visited the Manchester taproom at the end of February, even before the first coronavirus cases in the UK, there were already signs asking patrons to suppress coughs and sneezes and wash their hands thoroughly.
As the pandemic has gathered pace, so have Cloudwater’s efforts to help others.
They offer a 25% discount to key workers ordering from them. Customers can also buy tokens in £1 increments. Each time £50 has been collected, a draw is made and someone gets a reward for their efforts fighting on the frontline against the virus.
And all this has been done while showing admirable support for their staff.
Left Handed Giant & Gipsy Hill Brewing Company
Two more breweries, Left Handed Giant and Gipsy Hill stepped in to help Verdant when they ran into trouble with their courier. Both offered Verdant beers via their webshops, with revenue from sales going back to Verdant.
Gipsy Hill also has the option on their website to “buy the NHS a pint”. How does it work?
Each pint paid forward will add to a bar tab on our taproom till system. Once our taproom is back up and running, anyone from the NHS and by extension any volunteer signed up to help, can pop in, show their ID and redeem their pint.
And Brewgooder, set up with a mission “to provide clean water for 1 million people through the power of craft beer”, is doing something very similar with #oneonus.
Gift a 4 pack and a message of support for an NHS employee to claim at random and receive when they are ready to. Every £6 donation will cover the cost incurred to brew, pack and deliver a 4 pack of beer, or Karma Cola, with your message included, to an NHS employee in the UK.
Lost & Grounded Brewers
Also doing their best to support key workers, Lost and Grounded is giving out #thankyoubeers.
We want to show our support to all key workers in Bristol over the coming weeks by way of #thankyoubeers for teams to enjoy, offering what we can to help make things as bright as they can be for folk working to keep us safe and healthy through these difficult times.
A daily draw is held to select a team in Bristol to get free beers.
And that’s not all, NHS workers get a 20% discount on the Lost & Grounded online store.
Northern Monk Brewery
The Monks gave away 5,000 cans of their flagship Pale Ale, Faith to NHS workers.
We’re giving away 5000 free cans of Faith to NHS workers between 2pm and 4pm tomorrow. We're putting our faith in our community to do the right thing. If you're not a health worker, do not claim them. If you are, please help yourself via https://t.co/LuFoXykg8T. Please RT. pic.twitter.com/kDHlqq7OS5— NORTHERN MONK (@NMBCo) March 28, 2020
Much maligned in the past for an aggressive and confrontational marketing strategy, BrewDog has continued to show new levels of maturity and empathy.
They’ve manufactured hand sanitiser at their Aberdeen distillery, which they have provided free of charge to hospitals and charities in their native Scotland.
And they haven’t stopped there.
They’ve also used delivery vans to take free school lunches to isolated children in their local community.
Bayerische Staatsbrauerei Weihenstephan
Disproving the lie that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, the world’s oldest brewery, Weihenstephaner, has also turned its hand to producing disinfectant. The brewery worked with the Association of Statutory Health Insurance Dentists in Bavaria to ensure that the region’s dentists can keep providing emergency care.
Having cancelled its World Beer Cup competition, the Brewers Association in the US has “endeavored to make good out of poor circumstances and is grateful to partner with two Denver-based distillers, Denver Distillery and Ballmer Peak Distillery, who are making hand sanitizer and distributing to first responders.”
Other Half Brewing
Other Half announced their All Together Project on 27 March.
All Together is a worldwide, open-ended beer collaboration created to raise support for the industry we love so much. It’s an effort to raise awareness and provide relief, even in the smallest way, to those who are struggling. We’re inviting any brewer, from any corner of the planet to participate. The recipe is open source, the artwork is public, and the name is yours to use. The goal is to provide you with the tools to make the beer at the lowest possible cost.
I’ve seen lots of breweries in my social feeds agreeing to get involved so I’m looking forward to trying some of these beers when they’re released.
The Watermead Inn
My mum got in touch to tell me about this feel good story. Kelvin Wong, the landlord at The Watermead Inn in Aylesbury didn’t want his beer to go waste so offered to deliver it for free to local residents – but only if they stay indoors!
And Kelvin and his team are now offering to do chores too. Those in need can contact the pub or leave a note under their glass.
From dog waking, to grass cutting, picking up grocery to painting your fence, anything outdoor to keep my staff busy we will consider
If you consume mainstream media it may sometimes feel like the world is going to the wall but with people like Kelvin and all the others mentioned above around maybe we shouldn’t write things off just yet.
I hope all these good deeds have at least brought a smile to a few faces.
Stay safe. Stay healthy. Stay hydrated.