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How can we help local beer?

Sorry, folks: This post has no fun taproom visits, no interviews with innovative beer people—local craft brewers are way too busy saving their businesses right now for us to take up their time.

And (rare personal digression here) if I hear one more commercial or read one more article with the phrases “In these uncertain times…” or “At this unprecedented juncture in history…” I’m going to lose it. All those giant companies telling us that they are here for us: Yes, we get it. You’ll be around after things calm down because you’re hugely capitalized. How about you take the money you spend on one of these prime-time TV spots and help buy meals and PPE or donate to one of the companies investigating vaccines. Just do it.

But let’s talk local beer: Our neighborhood and town and city favorites are in many cases hurting badly due to closures, restrictions, and layoffs. Over-the-counter, in-taproom sales are nonexistent. Many breweries have had to make the unexpected pivot to canning and retail sales. The industry—and the wider hospitality sector—is reeling.

Let’s talk about what we can do to help. First, if your local taproom is doing on-premises or curbside ordering and pickup, please try to order and get some of your favorites that way. Some notoriously Puritan-ish states <<cough, Massachusetts>> have pulled the giant stick out of their middleman-loving butts and are even allowing more direct delivery of beer and wine and alcohol in general. Let’s hope the situation doesn’t revert after reopening (whatever that looks like) to the previous hard line of “NO DELIVERY. AND NO SALES IN GROCERY STORES OR CONVENIENCE STORES. YOU HAVE TO MAKE MULTIPLE TRIPS TO COMPLETE YOUR SHOPPING.” Obstructive much?

I know a lot of us are also feeling weird about spending money for goods that aren’t food or shelter—it’s hard to justify outflow when our inflow might be either stopped or in jeopardy. What can we do about that? Lots: Follow your favorites, local and away, on social media—follow, like, share with your friends—some of us might have a little down time for more surfing. Join Instagram and Facebook Live meetups at your local and at breweries you’ve visited during your travels. If you aren’t in the market, fridge- or budget-wise, for more local craft beer, maybe hop on a brewery website and buy some stickers

or a hat or a t-shirt. Then later on you can wear your swag and make a brewer smile.

The wider beer world jumped into the mix last month, as Brooklyn’s Other Half Brewing (OHB) – along with a collective of industry partners – announced that it was spearheading the All Together Beer project, a worldwide beer collaboration aimed at raising funds for the hospitality industry, an area of the workforce hit hard by the effects of COVID-19.

OHB – plus design agency partner Stout Collective, web studio Craftpeak, and printers Blue Label Packaging – have given participating breweries the tools needed to produce a benefit beer that can be brewed and released at their own respective facilities, including a simple-to-brew open-source recipe, artwork to be used by all the breweries, optional labels printed at cost, and the green light to use the name “All Together” for the beer.

At this writing, the OHB project has signed up 636 breweries hailing from 41 U.S. states and 41 countries. The All Together beer has even invited homebrewers to participate. As seen on the All Together website: “Not to put too fine a point on it, but we cannot do this without you. Be safe, be good to one another.”

The message is signed: “The Brewers of The World”

Let’s help them and the people who keep us fed, watered, all beer-ed up, and interested in the craft-beer world.

Be safe—help out your local—and thanks a lot.

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