COVID-19 has taken a chunk out of a lot of breweries’ business. For Orange County’s The Bruery, and its sister brand Offshoot Beer Co., a quarter of its business dried up in mid-March with the loss of sales inside its taprooms and tasting rooms, as well as the closure of the on-premise.
“It forces you to get much, much closer to the business,” Barry Holmes, CEO of The Bruery and Offshoot, said. “It forces you to manage your cash very closely.”
Although COVID-19 has forced layoffs and furloughs throughout the beer industry, The Bruery has managed to avoid them while redeploying taproom employees whose jobs would have been affected as beer delivery drivers who make same-day drops to consumers in Orange County, with a similar program set to launch in Los Angeles next week.
“That’s a way for us to touch the members and our customers in a way that works for them, and it redeploys our great employees to do something different that’s value added,” Holmes said. “And we don’t have to lay anyone off in the process.”
Another way The Bruery has tried to strengthen itself was through the CARES Act’s Payroll Protection Program. However, despite applying for the program on Day One, The Bruery didn’t make the initial cut and will have to wait for the next relief package to make its way through Congress.
“With that, then it gives us a lot more runway,” Holmes said. “Without it, it becomes much, much tougher. But, for now, we’re mitigating some of those losses with our strengths.
“We’re just like anyone else,” he continued. “We’re managing cash extremely tightly, but we’re doing so in a way that our employees and our team members know that’s not going to be the first place that we cut. We’re planning for some form of resurgence, over the summer, later in the fall, whenever that happens. We’re just trying to take advantage of every opportunity that we can right now to put us in a position to do those things when they happen.”
In the above video interview, Holmes offers tips to breweries considering getting into direct-to-consumer or membership club business and shares how The Bruery is engaging its members via weekly, virtual happy hours on Thursday nights. He also discusses how adding a line of canned hazy IPAs and a pilsner through the Offshoot brand has helped fortify The Bruery’s business, which was originally built on barrel-aged and sour offerings.
Watch the video above, and see other videos conversations on Brewbound.com.