Our team published the results of the “COVID-19 craft beer drinkers” survey. You can download the report here.
The report gives some encouraging signs and helpful insights for craft breweries who are persevering with beer-to-go sales while taprooms and venues are closed.
1. Craft beer drinkers are drinking more
The overwhelming response from our survey was that craft beer drinkers are still drinking craft beer. Despite the concern that macro beer would be an easy substitute at the grocery store, a significant number of respondents said that they were both drinking more beer overall and more craft beer overall.
2. Breweries need to focus on their established consumer base
The survey data suggests that consumers are sticking to what they know during the lockdown and are not trying beer from as many new breweries as they usually would.
Loyalty to a craft brewery was the #1 consideration for consumers choosing a brewery to buy beer-to-go. Craft breweries need to take advantage of this and engage with their closest consumers: regulars, mug club members and historical supporters. Breweries have seen success with a number of tactics: Facebook and WhatsApp groups, weekly virtual happy hours and social media giveaways are all great ways to keep your loyal consumers buying beer and sharing your message online.
3. Don’t forget loyal consumers who are a little further away
A surprising insight from the survey is how far craft beer drinkers are willing to travel to buy beer-to-go. One in four consumers said they would travel over 20 miles to buy from a craft brewery. To take advantage of this, craft breweries can increase the regularity of their new releases and offers – so that their consumers who are further away know when to plan their brewery visits in advance.
Also be clear on all of the buying options available – if consumers can get your beer mailed or delivered, then make sure those who are further afield get a clear link to buy. This may mean different email content for consumers within 30 miles and those further away.
4. Communication is key
Consumers want to receive regular, consistent, and clear updates from their favorite breweries to easily pick up beer-to-go. Breweries should prioritize regular updates to email lists and social media at a set time every day, every other day or every week. Any important changes should be pinned and highlighted at the top of each social channel. It is important to control the messaging that comes out of your establishment and having easy-to-find updates helps this.
Quality of information available through social media updates was the 2nd most important factor for consumers in choosing which brewery to buy beer-to-go from. Be clear on availability, upcoming releases and instructions on your to-go process.
5. Stick to popular styles
Many breweries have reported that they are seeing increases in sales of higher ABV beer, likely due to the fact that is easier to drink high ABV beer at home than in the taproom. At the same time, consumers are reporting that they are trying far fewer new beers and styles than usual.
The data suggests that during the lockdown breweries would better fare with a “more of the same” approach rather than branching out to new styles for the first-time.
6. Show how safe and easy it is to get beer-to-go
Over half of consumers listed how safe and sanitary a brewery to-go process is as a deciding factor in whether they bought beer to go. As a brewery, you can go out of your way to demonstrate to consumers ahead of time the steps you are taking to keep them safe.
It is worth creating a short video or virtual tour that walks consumers through your beer-to-go process. If consumers can see how easy it is to pick up your beer, they are more likely to come and give it a try.
7. Start to prepare for a normal in how consumers search and reserve craft beer
It will be a while until taprooms are buzzing again with people – and even once they are full again, there will always be consumers who are extra careful and not willing to be amongst crowds. Fewer consumers will also want to wait in line for limited release beer.
The lockdown is showing us that consumers are looking for more ways to search for and reserve beer online, and so as a brewery you can use this time to test online, advanced sales, and pre-order platforms and processes that can remain in place once your taproom is open again.
8. Gift cards are not selling as they should be
Consumers commented on wanting to buy brewery gift cards but reported that it was often difficult to find cards online, and once they were found cards available with the amount they wanted – work with your POS to see if you can offer a flexible price amount. Consumers mentioned Jester King Brewery as having a great gift-card setup on their website.
9. Organizing and innovating is helping breweries and their staff
In tough times, consumers are reporting numerous examples of breweries making the best of bad situations to both sell beer and support brewery staff. A number of local, state-wide and national campaigns have been formed to help formalize these movements including Community Beer’s #NationwideCheers campaign.
One innovation in brewing that opens huge possibilities is the rise in virtual brewery collaborations; opening the door for future collabs that wouldn’t have otherwise been possible.
10. Data suggests that consumers are ready to buy – lobby your politicians
If the “Effects of COVID-19 on US Craft Drinkers” report tells us one thing it is that craft beer drinkers want easier and more convenient access to craft beer. State laws differ substantially, and in many cases are restricting craft breweries ability to get beer into the hands of consumers who want to buy. This bureaucracy is putting our craft brewery businesses at risk – and so requires an organized collaborative effort to change laws and restrictions.
Every stakeholder of the craft brewing industry should be vocal about changes that need to be made in their State. You can find your representatives here
The virtual, from-home event will take place at 5pm on Friday March 20th, and is designed to encourage consumers to use curbside to-go stores at craft breweries over the country who have had to close taprooms due to COVID-19.
With the growing restrictions due to the COVID-19 outbreak there is a real fear for the impact on small-business owners reliant on in-person sales. Many small independent craft breweries fall into this category as taprooms are forced to close.
There is a growing online movement by craft beer drinkers to support our independent craft breweries through this time by purchasing online gift cards that can be used once the crisis is over.
We have compiled a State-by-State list of breweries and craft-beer companies who are offering gift card purchase directly online. A purchase will help the brewery with short-term cash flow and give you – the consumer – something great to look forward to once the crisis is over.
If you are a brewery and have online gift-card purchase link, where your receive the revenue directly and instantly – please reach out to be added to this list: [email protected]
The above information was sourced by the Hopalytics team through internet searches by State – if you would like for your brewery or craft-beer business to be added, please get in touch: [email protected]
With the growing advice to self-isolate to control the COVID-19 virus outbreak, there is a real fear that Texas independent craft breweries and brewpub taproom sales will suffer. Our brewers rely on taproom sales to generate year-round revenue and a drop in visitors for a few weeks can affect business operations.
One way that craft beer drinkers can continue to support their local breweries at this time is to purchase online merchandise and gift cards for future use in the taproom. Buying gift cards online for future use that are sold directly from the brewery ensures that revenue continues to flow to businesses at this difficult time.
Texas Craft Beer Gift Cards
The Hopalytics team compiled a list of some of the Texas independent craft breweries and brewpubs who offer gift-card sales online:
Best New Texas Brewery: Roughhouse Brewing in San Marcos
Roughhouse Brewing in San Marcos recently celebrated its 1-year anniversary, and was deservedly listed as one of the top new breweries in Texas in the Texas Craft Beer Report.
The Roughhouse Brewing Team
“Roughhouse is very much a family business” says owner Alex Pasternak. It was founded by Alex and her husband Davy as a project to create a Texas-centric and family-centric space. Situated on Davy’s parents’ land a few miles from San Marcos, the brewery celebrates the couples’ love of craft beer and the local community. The couple are joined by Davy’s brother Andy and have quickly established a space that consumers love to visit.
“The name Roughhouse represents the familial and playful memories of growing up in Texas, coupled with an image in the logo that more literally depicts the rustic and welcoming qualities of our brewery and beer.”
Roughhouse named one of the best new breweries in Texas
San Marcos Mayor Jane Hughson presented the “Best New Brewery” award to Roughhouse Brewing’s owners. “This award means a lot to our small team” explains Pasternak. “with only three full-time owner/employees (and the help of five part-time staff members), we cover a lot of ground each week. We do it because we believe in our product and in the general objective of providing good, honest customer service and relationships to our patrons and our industry peers”.
Roughhouse Brewing’s success is the latest in a growing San Marcos beer scene that includes Roughhouse’s neighbors Middleton Brewing, AquaBrew (identified in the Texas Craft Beer Report as a great place to eat) and top ranked brewery Hops & Grain who have expanded from their Austin location.
Roughhouse launch cave-aged beer program
Despite only selling beer in San Marcos for a little over 12 months, Roughhouse are already heavily innovating within the Texas craft beer community utilizing their unique property.
Pasternak explains “In February 2020 we started a cave-aged beer program at Roughhouse! Using a natural, underground cave on the property, we excavated for nearly a year to prepare the space to house what will start as a small cellar with eight barrels. To kickoff the new series of funkier, wild beer, we collaborated with Jester King Brewery to create a spontaneously fermented ale using Texas ingredients and aged hops. It will be at least a year before we taste the results of this first beer, but we’re excited to see what the future holds!”
Roughhouse is also working to ensure the food they serve on site at their brewery is as ingrained in their Texas roots as their beer.
“We are transitioning our on-site kitchen to fully promote and source from local or Texas farms, with a lineup of scratch-made sandwiches, soups, salads and snacks.”
“We’re excited to marry our vision for our beer (and wine) program, which is heavily focused on local providers, to the food side of operations! We are overdue to showcase Texas food makers, and we’re excited to bring that to our community.”
Arriving in Midland on a Friday afternoon, we were met with a beautiful and massive venue, along with a very crowded parking lot. As the parking lot suggested, and despite Tall City only having been open a few months, it was a full house and not a seat to be found as we walked in the door.
I ordered a flight of four beers:
Bird Lady American Pale Ale
Hop Up Camper American IPA
Iron Orchard Stout.
Every beer was delicious, but my personal favorite was the Haboob Hefeweizen. I found this beer to be very easy drinking, it had a great flavor with notes of bananas and cloves.
Tall City’s large taproom offers both indoor and outdoor covered seating areas. We opted to hang outside under the patio heaters since it was a little chilly. It was really a great vibe; with live music, food trucks and very family-friendly.
The folks behind Tall City
I was fortunate to meet four of the five owners of Tall City Brewing Company: Jeff Thomas, Erich Schmidt, Nicholas Schmidt and Jarrod Sparks. I was truly impressed that they were either slinging beer behind the bar or bussing tables during their peak busy periods.
Once things settled down a bit, I had the opportunity to sit down for a chat with Jeff and Jarrod.
I wanted to know how the idea of Tall City Brewing was conceived. Jeff remembers a visit to Jester King in Austin with his sister back in 2016. After having 2 beers, the idea of opening a brewery back in Midland popped into his head. He then texted his two buddies Erich and Nicholas Schmidt about the idea. Their response: “We’re in!”.
The name Tall City pays homage to the city of Midland as it is known as the “tall city” of west Texas. In October 2016 the LLC for Tall City Brewing was acquired, a site was identified on West Golf Course Road and ground broke in late 2018. Tall City’s grand opening was November 15th, 2019.
When I asked about some of the goals for Tall City Brewing, Jarrod was clear that their goal for the next year is to become the top regional brewery in West Texas. With distribution in the works, the team will to continue to brew traditional beers while staying true to the craft. As Jeff stated, “we want our beer to taste like beer!”
Jarrod was gracious enough to give me a tour of the brewhouse, which is an amazing facility with state-of-the-art brewing equipment and most importantly – room to expand. The 5 hour drive from San Antonio was well worth it. I’m really looking forward to what the future holds for the folks of Tall City Brewing Company in Midland and beyond. From what I can see, it’s gonna be pretty bright!
JD Duran is a craft beer drinker who lives in San Antonio. He is passionate about both the San Antonio and wider Texas craft beer communities. You can find him on Instagram: TXBeerDude or at your local craft brewery!