Massachusetts breweries have been under harsh constraints due to the global coronavirus pandemic. The rise of Covid-19 has forced large scale breweries and craft breweries to switch to alternative methods of serving their customers in order to stay afloat. 

A curbside pickup transaction

With restrictions on seating customers indoors and in taprooms, many breweries in Massachusetts have had to change their entire operations. Breweries designed for indoor drinking have scrambled to provide outdoor seating. Pick-up and delivery operations that typically require months of planning have been put together in a matter of weeks. 

How these Massachusetts breweries adapted to the pandemic restrictions 

One brewery that has persisted through the Pandemic is Lost Shoe Brewing Co. in Marlborough MA. With its taproom being its primary source of income, Lost Shoe had to think of other ways to get its cans out of the door. It made big changes to its business model by focusing its efforts on providing curbside pickup for customers.

Wormtown Brewery in Worcester moved its operation from its indoor taproom to their outdoor porch. The brewery instructs customers via its website to drive up to the porch where an employee will hand them the beer. This drive-through method of beer pick-up is a safe way for the customers to buy beer while the taprooms are closed indefinitely. 

A brewery employee loading up for a delivery

Trillium Brewing Co. which is popular for its great locations and taprooms had the means to switch to delivery while they wait out the pandemic. They are keeping their loyal customers ordering by running a special anniversary IPA and selling merchandise such as clothing and beer glasses promoting their brand. 

A brewery for the new normal 

While existing breweries are struggling to stay in business, one brewery out of Allston MA just opened for business in the midst of the pandemic. 

Rock City Brewing Co. surprised the local craft beer community when they opened up for business when restrictions were in full effect. I talked to the owner of the company to figure out why they were making this bold move. 

Colin Young, the owner of Rock City Brewing Co. told me this, “We’re in the early stages of planning when COVID-19 started making headlines. When our fellow breweries started to feel the full effect of the pandemic, I knew I had to change our business model before we started brewing at scale. I saw how other breweries adapted to the new normal and based our business model on that, while also looking for creative ways to keep the costs of our operation as low as possible, focus on quality product and to keep our beer prices reasonable”. 

Rock City Brewing Co. is now open in downtown Allston for pick-up while also selling cans through liquor stores in the Greater Boston area who are partnered with alcohol delivery apps. They are using an innovative locker pickup method to further encourage social distancing and zero-contact pickup. 

In conclusion…

The breweries that have been lucky enough to keep brewing during the pandemic have had to make big changes to their operations. Breweries that once relied on their taprooms have been forced to come up with makeshift pickup and delivery operations or use available space for outdoor seating. 

The future of breweries may depend on their resilience and their will to adapt to the new normal. Breweries such as Rock City who base their business model on these adaptations are paving the way for the future of breweries in Massachusetts and the wider craft brewing community. 

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