Coronavirus brews up big trouble for the craft brewery business

One of the state's hardest hit industries, craft brewing, is the nationwide leader in size, innovation and sales. But, with the coronavirus pandemic there are now the staggering numbers the pandemic is plaguing it with. 

Until the coronavirus, brew pub crawling was a fun contact sport where folks stood and sat shoulder to shoulder hoisting a mug. Today, California's brew pubs and breweries need your support.

The two family owned, Alameda Island Brewing Company on Park Street has been going strong for five years; truly a place were everyone knows your name. "We are your living room outside of your home," said

Jennah Heimans of the Alameda Island Brewing Company. Since the coronavirus shutdown, Alameda Island has had to reduce its services like every other craft brewery and brew pub in the state. "We've had to close our taproom to the public at this time so right now, we're operating a pick-up window along with home deliveries and we've just branched out to shipping throughout California." said Ms. Heimans For now, that has had real consequences. "So, we've actually been operating with just a skeleton  crew of about 4 employees versus or normal staff of about 14." said Heimans.

The California Craft Brewers Association surveyed 230 brewery owners. "The majority of them are small, local, mom and pop breweries," said the association's Lie Bailey. Owners, big and small, report that 43% of their sales are gone  so far, but it's likely to get far worse. That's because the respondents say about half of their beer is sold in their tasting rooms. Twenty more percent is sold by restaurants and bars.

So, in reality, seventy percent of their business is gone and unlikely to return anytime soon. "Many are looking to reinvent their business model every day," said Ms. Bailey.

The staggering effect: craft brewers have already laid off or furloughed 30% of their employees.

With 1,050 breweries employing more than 61,000 people, more than any other state, has been $9 billion economic engine. "I do say about this industry and there's a lot of spirit out there that they're part artist, part scientist, you know, entrepreneurs; they're very creative people with a wide variety of backgrounds." said Bailey.

Nationwide, almost half of craft breweries across say their businesses will likely only last between one and three months. Almost 13% say they can stay afloat for just another one to four weeks. This is a fight for their economic lives. "I think we all know there will be another side of this but who's going to be on the other side if this is a big question mark," said Bailey.

So, if you want your brewpub to return to the good old days of just over a month ago and to be on the other side of this pandemic, pick up some brew or have it delivered; what you might call a lager lifeline.