2020 may be over, but unfortunately COVID-19 is still going strong. Although vaccines are starting to become available, around 80% of people will need to be vaccinated before we reach herd immunity, and that’s going to take a while. Until then, breweries in Austin and all over Texas will have to keep up safety precautions that make business more difficult. Here are 6 ways to help your local breweries stay open through COVID.
The most intuitive way to help out your local breweries is to visit, if they have an open taproom. This resource has a list of breweries in Greater Austin that are open during COVID, sorted by area. I’ve found that the vast majority have an outdoor seating area available. Even though it’s winter, Texas rarely ever gets cold enough that a few beers won’t warm you right up!
Some also have indoor areas open at limited capacity, but those will be more limited during Stage 5 of COVID-19 precautions and may not be advisable. With city and state guidance changing so often, I would recommend checking the websites or social media accounts of any brewery before you go. There are frequent changes in response to government guidelines, and I’ve also seen many breweries have to shut down for a few days because of a COVID case in their staff.
2. Buy food
Because of Governor Abbot’s guidelines restricting bars, most breweries are only able to stay open right now by reclassifying as restaurants. But this requires them to lower their percentage of alcohol sales to 50% of total revenue. Obviously, that can be difficult for breweries to do!
You can help out when you visit by ordering food or non-alcoholic drinks of an equal value to the alcohol you purchase. If the brewery you love doesn’t normally sell food, fear not! Many breweries are now incorporating food trucks into their business, so this is a perfect chance to find some new favorite street food.
3. Grab some merchandise
Food isn’t the only way to help local breweries keep alcohol sales to 50%. Merchandise also counts towards the total of non-alcohol sales! This is the perfect time to grab a pint glass, hat, t-shirt, or hoodie from one of your favorite breweries. In many cases you can even purchase merch online, or add it to your cart for a to-go beer pickup. And speaking of that…
4. Pick up beer to go
If your favorite brewery is not open for visits (or if you do not want to visit because of health precautions or the cold weather) there is another way. Stop by for a growler fill, a 6-pack, a limited release bottle, or whatever else you are inclined to enjoy at home.
I’ve picked up some really fantastic beers-to-go over the past few months: a limited edition aged ale from Lazarus, a 10-year anniversary special and a sourdough bread stout from Jester King, a growler of sour oatmeal stout from Blue Owl, and another growler of bourbon-barrel aged brown ale from Old 290 Brewery.
If you’re pressed for time, you can also find offering from your local breweries at the grocery store. I frequently see Adelbert’s, Celis, Last Stand, Hi Sign, Blue Owl, Whitestone, Orf, Live Oak, and many more at grocery stores like HEB or Central Market. This isn’t as good from buying straight from the brewery since the grocery store will take a cut, but it’s certainly better than nothing!
5. Get vaccinated
This might not some directly related to breweries, but ending COVID-19’s control on our lives is the best way to help every part of the economy. Since breweries aren’t considered an “essential business” (no matter how essential craft beer lovers may find them), they will be some of the last businesses allowed to completely reopen with no restrictions.
This article talks about a timeline for the end of COVID-19 restrictions based on vaccination rates. Like I said at the beginning, the majority of people will need to be vaccinated in order to get the herd immunity that will protect us. Help your breweries, and help us all finally get back to normalcy. Get vaccinated whenever it is available to you