Thousands of small breweries are at risk of closing due to COVID-19. Supporting them can help them survive until things return to normal.

By Mike Pomranz
April 29, 2020
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American Craft Beer Week is going to look at little different this year—but like beer festivals and wine tastings that have become virtual events online, the coronavirus pandemic isn’t causing the celebration to be canceled. Quite the opposite, actually: American Craft Beer Week may be more important in 2020 than ever before.

As we’ve discussed throughout the COVID-19 outbreak, small breweries have been hit especially hard by the shutdown of bars and taprooms. As the number of breweries in the United States ballooned to over 8,000 over the past decade, many of these brewers kept costs down by focusing on selling draft beer locally—sometimes no further than out of their own facilities. But without outlets to sell that beer, a lot of it may have to be dumped—unless, of course, people buy it.

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That’s where American Craft Beer Week can help out. From May 11 to 17, the nationwide celebration—which is hosted by the Brewers Association-run website CraftBeer.com—is asking people to “support independent brewery businesses by giving the gift of craft beer through delivery of beer, beer-to-go, gift cards or merchandise.” The site has even created a state-by-state list of breweries that are offering delivery, beer to-go, or other alternative forms of sales.

“Independent craft breweries are an essential component in the important economic network of growers, distributors, supplier partners, beer lovers, and retailers,” Julia Herz—publisher of CraftBeer.com and craft beer program director at the Brewers Association—said in the announcement. “This American Craft Beer Week, brewers and beer lovers will connect in new ways during these challenging times. From May 11 to May 17, those who commit to giving independent craft beer will make a difference that reaches beyond the beverage to support and save thousands of hometown breweries who are instrumental in giving back to so many local communities and charitable causes.”

Earlier this month, a poll of independent breweries showed that nearly half said that they may be forced to shutter permanently if coronavirus-related issues drag on for more than a few months.

Throughout the week, CraftBeer.com will be tallying how many beers have been gifted and how many breweries have been supported in the process on the official American Craft Beer Week page. The organizers are encouraging people to spread the idea on social media with the hashtag “#GiveCraftBeer” and through downloadable images for social media and, of course, Zoom backgrounds.

Finally, if you want to support the brewing industry without actually buying any beer, you have that option, too. The Brewers Association has set up a GoFundMe campaign called the “Believe in Beer Relief Fund” which will “be available to breweries and state guilds that demonstrate immediate financial need due to COVID-19 and meet the outlined criteria.”