Large Craft Suppliers Assure Wholesalers of Supply
Yesterday, Boston Beer chief Dave Burwick detailed to wholesalers how they’ve changed operations — from worker conditions to ordering adjustments — to mitigate the effects of COVID-19.
Dave shared how they’ve relegated some parts of the team to virtual work, and dictated social distancing for those that need to be at breweries, all of which are currently running. To continue operating, they’ve employed “thermal screening to identify potentially ill coworkers,” and “significantly” enhanced cleaning and sanitation — even covered the cost of dependent care for coworkers “to allow them to come to work without worry.”
While they have had to temporarily close hospitality venues to the public, brewery capabilities are being expanded. “We are further expanding our can and variety pack capacity and are excited to have a third can line up and running in our Pennsylvania brewery by the end of next week,” Dave said.
As for distributors who are grappling with constantly changing ordering needs:
“The Customer Operations Team is working with wholesalers to address order change requests and manage information about wholesaler operating plans,” Dave said.
“During this time, wholesalers can submit order changes through ‘Online Beer.’ We will continue to evaluate and modify our production schedules with customers’ changing needs in mind. We also will be evaluating how to handle potential out-of-code products and provide an update soon. During this time our sales coworkers will be focused on online training to sharpen their selling skills in preparation for getting back in the field.”
Naturally, salespeople will support customers via phone and video calls for now.
JIM KOCH TELLS BOSTON HERALD: SO FAR NO LAYOFFS
Speaking of Boston: In a Boston Herald article yesterday, Boston Beer founder Jim Koch acknowledged that we’re in uncharted waters with the virus crisis, and expressed sympathy for the on-premise channel and workers affected by shutdowns, whose paychecks have stopped.
“Koch said that despite being forced to close his new taproom just six weeks after opening, none of the employees at Boston Beer Company have been laid off and he only expects the sale of draft beers to decline,” per article.
DONATING AND MATCHING TO RESTAURANT STRONG FUND. “However, he conceded that many other companies are not as fortunate and have been forced to send a significant number of employees into unemployment.”
That’s why Jim and Sam Adams have donated $100,000 to the Restaurant Strong Fund, “a fundraiser launched by the Woburn-based Greg Hill Foundation aimed at providing $1,000 grants to full-time restaurant workers in Massachusetts who have been put out of work by the spread of the virus.” The company committed to match donations through the end of the month, up to another $100,000.
SIERRA BUILDING CERTAIN INVENTORIES, AND IS SECURE IN SUPPLY CHAIN, IT TELLS DISTRIBUTORS
Boston Beer isn’t the only national craft brewer who sent notice to distributors about operational updates yesterday.
Sierra Nevada Chief Commercial Officer Joe Whitney sent notice to wholesalers, assuring them of supply capabilities and more.
First, Joe addressed sales support. Sierra’s force is now working modified hours, “to better match present retail needs.
“We have instructed them their first order of priority is to call their distributors and ask how they can assist them in the market,” he said.
As for brewing and supply chain, Sierra is continuing to brew full time in both its California and North Carolina plants, of course with extra sanitary precautions.
FIELDING RUSH ORDERS AND BUILDING INVENTORIES ON KEY PACKAGES. As for orders, Joe said they are currently not planning any changes to their ordering protocol.
But, as “many distributors have called asking for rush orders,” Joe said, “we will do our best to accommodate.”
Naturally, “inventory levels will be particularly tricky under these circumstances,” he said. As such they will “be building inventories on core packages like Pale Ale, Hazy Little Thing and Torpedo 6 and 12 packs and reducing our inventories on draft and specialty products.” They urged distributors to focus any rush orders on these packages.
MORE BREWERS GOING DIRECT TO CONSUMER
In the wake of the COVID crisis, many more brewers are using direct shipping (in state) and delivery to get their beer to consumers.
IN OHIO, MOST BREWERIES PIVOT TO DELIVERY, CARRY OUT. Ohio craft breweries are switching to direct-to-customer sales after the Ohio Department of Health shut down on-premise consumption on Sunday, March 15th.
Current Ohio law allows brewers to “sell beer directly to consumers via carry out, home delivery and direct shipping,” reports the Ohio Craft Brewers Association.
So naturally, the majority of the OCBA’s 230-member organization is employing those means: 173 have changed their existing business models to sell beer for carry out or delivery.
“The craft brewing industry was built on innovation,” said Mary MacDonald, OCBA’s executive director. “Breweries are leading by example by taking measures to promote social distancing to slow the spread of the virus. The effects of the state ordered closures will hit small businesses disproportionately harder, so we’re asking people to support independent breweries now so our industry will come back as strong as ever once this crisis passes.”
IN CALIFORNIA, BREWERS BRINGING BEER TO DOORSTEPS IN DIFFERENT WAYS. On the opposite side of the nation, we received three press releases today from well-known brewers in the state – Firestone Walker, The Lost Abbey, and Modern Times – sharing how consumers can get their beer delivered right to their doorstep. And all three are going about delivery in different ways.
FIRESTONE WALKER TEAMING UP WITH DRIZLY. Firestone Walker announced in their release that “cold, fresh beer” is still making its way out of the facility, and can now be delivered to your door with ecommerce platform Drizly. The release also added that consumers can “save $5 off” their first order with the promo code FIRESTONE20.
THE LOST ABBEY HAND DELIVERING. The Lost Abbey, meanwhile, announced that it was now “hand- delivering” its “craft beers direct to consumers,” per release. “All three brands, The Lost Abbey, Port Brewing, and The Hop Concept are now available for purchase at shop.lostabbey.com and will be delivered directly to a consumer’s doorstep in the Solana Beach, Encinitas, Carlsbad, Oceanside, Vista, San Marcos, Escondido, Del Dios, and Rancho Santa Fe neighborhoods.” The release adds that consumers that reside outside of these neighborhoods” can also purchase beers for delivery to be shipped anywhere inside the state of California.” COO and Co-Founder Tomme Arthur, said “it may take a day to get to you, but it’ll get there.”
MODERN TIMES NOW SHIPPING CASES IN CALIFORNIA. And Modern Times announced that they’re “officially ready to begin shipping cases” of their beer right to California consumers’ doors. They also note that “each case is packed by employees wearing nitrile gloves and with strict adherence to recommended cleanliness and sanitation standards.”
Again, consumers have to reside in California, and must order beer by the case (six 4-packs) from their sale page. The shipment should “arrive within 2-3 business days” and customers will “receive a tracking number within 24 hours from the shipping service.” The brewer also notes that California consumers can order their merchandise and coffee as well, but because those orders are processed separately, “they may arrive in a separate shipment.”
Modern Times closed out the announcement stating, “If you’re feeling like a few more beers (and maybe some coffee & very sexy merch) would improve your quarantine situation, please know that it would also vastly improve ours.” The brewer notes that “the impact of this crisis has been both immediate and massive for us, and closing seven locations simultaneously is a scenario with far reaching and extremely difficult implications for our employees and our company as a whole.”
3 DAUGHTERS NOW BREWING HAND SANITIZER
As more locations are shut down for traditional on-premise sales and brewing slows down, more businesses are getting creative with how to operate and give back to their communities.
Yesterday, Florida-based 3 Daughters Brewing announced in a press release that they have started using their facilities to create and bottle an alcohol-based hand sanitizer and will be providing it for free now.
“Though our tasting room is closed by government mandate, we still want to find a way to help people during these uncertain times,” said Mike Harting, Owner of 3 Daughters Brewing. “We are all in this together and this is an opportunity to give back to people who may not have been able to find it in stores.”
The 4-oz bottles (one per person) will be available to anyone who stops by the brewery until supplies last.
The Brewers Association issued notice today that its annual big beer and food tasting event, Savor, is cancelled for 2020.
“As the situation surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic continues to develop, and long-term shelter-in-place and closure orders become ubiquitous, the health and safety our brewers, guests, members, sponsors, volunteers and staff remain our top priority,” the organizers said.
As a result, the BA has “decided to cancel SAVOR, scheduled for May 15, 2020.”
The annual Hill Climb lobby event and congressional reception scheduled for May 13 and 14th have been postponed, the BA said. They’re exploring alternate dates.
Both brewres and original ticket purchasers for Savor will be refunded. Brewer refunds will be automatic, over the next 60 days.
Jenn, Jordan, and Harry
“Deeds, not words shall speak me.”
– John Fletcher