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How Does Stay Home Work Safe Affect Breweries

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Beginning today, Tuesday 3/24, everybody in Houston and Harris County is ordered to stay home, only leaving the house to “perform allowed activities.” That’s led to some of our friends texting and direct messaging us, “how does stay at home work safe affect breweries?”

This morning, Houston and Harris County leaders announced a “Stay Home, Work Safe Order,” similar to a shelter-in-place or stay-at-home order issued in other communities across the world. They’re rebranding it to sound less like a crisis, but it’s pretty simple and plain. Stay home unless you NEED to be out.

Need is vague, and beer might be a need depending on what your fridge is looking like.

If you haven’t already busted out your spending money to support your local brewery, today might be your last day between now and April 3, at least for some breweries. As data trickles in about how the Coronavirus is spreading through Texas, people are asking us how does stay at home work safe affect breweries.

For everybody that hasn’t texted and asked us, here’s how it’s affecting our breweries.

Some breweries have stopped production and had to lay off some staff. They’re not selling enough beer to pay everybody, and certainly not enough to keep brewing it.

Others are continuing production at a much slower rate, and they’re banking on the to-go orders. Here’s what a few of them have said.

“We can still produce and sell to-go. But this is real shitty.”

“Getting by.  Trying to do the right thing and keeping everything online so there’s little to no social contact but killing our sales.  How are y’all doing?”

“I don’t think [we’re shutting down] – I think you can make the legit argument that drive-thru beer is food to go. We’re not shutting down.”

“Beer to go. We have food permit. Can’t speak for everyone.”

“Uncertain. We’re taking advantage of the fact that we have a level 1 food permit to stay open for take out.”

Breweries that don’t have the ability to sell to go, or don’t have any type of food license seem to be in more dire straits, so consider making a stop for some more beer.

Ordering to-go from any of these places is a safe way to help them keep their head above water, but so is buying gift cards and merch.

We’re also selling some F Corona Tekus and donating profits to the service industry workers whose livelihood has been wiped out overnight. Go buy a glass if you can, or spread the word at the very least, please.

This is all the info we have at the time, which doesn’t provide a clear black and white yes or no, unfortunately. This is an evolving situation, and we’ll update as more info becomes available.

UPDATE: MARCH 24, 2020 2:38PM

According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s regulatory guidance on the essential critical infrastructure workforce, under the Food and Agriculture dropdown at the bottom of the page, there’s several mentions that work in the favor of our breweries.

“Workers supporting groceries, pharmacies, convenience stores and other retail that sells human food, animal/pet food, and beverage products.”

“Food manufacturer employees and their supplier employees—to include those employed in food processing (packers, meat processing, cheese plants, milk plants, produce, etc.) facilities; livestock, poultry, seafood slaughter facilities; pet and animal feed processing facilities; human food facilities producing by-products for animal food; beverage production facilities; and the production of food packaging.”

“Employees and firms supporting food, feed, and beverage distribution, including warehouse workers, vendor-managed inventory controllers and blockchain managers.”

Local government and federal government don’t always see eye to eye, so we’ll see if anything changes, but for now this is good news.

Big thanks to our friend who asked not to be named for pointing this information out to us. You know who you are, and we owe you a cold beer, sir.

UPDATE: MARCH 24, 2020 2:38PM

As mentioned in yesterday’s update, the federal regulations point to breweries being essential, but here’s a breath of fresh air and some comforting reassurance from our Texas Craft Brewers Guild:

“As many states across the U.S., and cities across Texas, move to Shelter in Place orders, it’s important to point out that according to the Department of Homeland Security, beverage production, distribution, and retail, as well as the entire food and beverage supply chain from agriculture to packaging, are considered ESSENTIAL. Based on our interpretation of all current guidance, our brewery members (as well as many Allied Trade or Retail Members who fall into the categories below) may continue operations such as production, and to-go sales while following your federal, state, and local guidelines around group size, social distancing, health, and safety.

Some Essential Food & Agriculture workforce categories that may be applicable to members:

  • Workers supporting groceries, pharmacies, convenience stores and other retail that sells human food, animal/pet food, and beverage products
  • Restaurant carry-out and quick serve food operations – Carry-out and delivery food employees
  • Food manufacturer employees and their supplier employees—to include those employed in food processing (packers, meat processing, cheese plants, milk plants, produce, etc.) facilities; livestock, poultry, seafood slaughter facilities; pet and animal feed processing facilities; human food facilities producing by-products for animal food; beverage production facilities; and the production of food packaging
  • Farm workers to include those employed in animal food, feed, and ingredient production, packaging, and distribution; manufacturing, packaging, and distribution of veterinary drugs; truck delivery and transport; farm and fishery labor needed to produce our food supply domestically
  • Employees and firms supporting food, feed, and beverage distribution, including warehouse workers, vendor-managed inventory controllers and blockchain managers
  • Workers supporting the sanitation of all food manufacturing processes and operations from wholesale to retail
  • Employees engaged in the manufacture and maintenance of equipment and other infrastructure necessary to agricultural production and distribution
  • Because various Shelter in Place orders are rolling out city-by-city and county-by-county in Texas rather than statewide, they do not use uniform language. While breweries are explicitly named as Essential in some Shelter in Place orders (such as San Antonio), in others they should fall under broader categories such as food/restaurant to-go. If you are hearing otherwise, and your local authorities are attempting to shutdown your production and/or to-go operations, we recommend pointing them to this information from DHS and emailing your Guild staff immediately as we may be able to provide assistance.

As a cautionary tale, the mayor of Denver tried to declare breweries, dispensaries, and liquor stores non-essential yesterday, and reversed the decision within a matter of hours when “the announcement resulted in a flood of Denver residents flocking to liquor stores across the city with places like Molly’s Liquors and Argonaut Wine & Spirits seeing lines around the block.”

This echoes our previous update, but the echo is much louder, and much more reassuring. However, there’s a seed of doubt that remains in this rapidly-changing, fluid situation.


This is an evolving situation, and we’ll update as more info becomes available.

Thanks, and beers to you, Houston.

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Beer Chronicle Team
beerchronicle@gmail.com
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