Champion breweries in Yorkshire are working together and increasing direct sales to drinkers, to react to the impact of the coronavirus outbreak.
Several of the region’s best-loved producers are increasing their online trade or offering door-to-door delivery, so customers can still enjoy first-rate Yorkshire beer while the country’s pubs are closed.
Those who have adapted their approach include Half Moon Brewery in Ellerton to the south of York; Brew York in the city centre; Turning Point Brewery in Knaresborough; and Brass Castle and Bad Seed breweries in Malton.
The initiative has been welcomed by York CAMRA.
York branch pubs protection officer Nick Love said: “Local breweries have been hit massively by the pubs shutdown so I’m urging local residents to support them in the same way as they’re supporting other local independent traders who are offering collection and delivery services.
“People will not only be pumping money back into the local economy but buying superb locally-produced beer. It’s a win-win.”
Brass Castle, whose website already included an online shop, has opened it up to other brewers including Bad Seed and Atom Brewery in Hull, which did not have their own.
Brass Castle owner Phil Saltonstall said they had worried about the loss of community but said: “Ironically, one of the better things to emerge from this period is a sense of shared experience and community.”
The brewery has furloughed some of its staff but is continuing to brew to sell online and to keep the brewery’s house yeast active and is delivering free to local postcodes.
Saltonstall said: “We’ve become an online beer retailer and delivery service and have reached out to other breweries who can sell their beers on our site. In the background, we’re fighting to safeguard, pay and retain our staff and to ensure they have a business to go back to eventually.”
He said the next step would be to help fight to ensure pubs remained viable for when the outbreak ends and to help carry the newfound community back into pubs.
Half Moon is offering direct delivery on Tuesdays and Fridays in and around York, Beverley, Selby, Pocklington and Howden.
Chris Waplington from Bad Seed said his brewery had lost almost a whole week’s orders within an hour of pubs being told to close. He said: “The decision to close pubs was the right one, as people’s safety has to come first.
“The way the beer community has pulled together has been so impressive. We’re all facing incredibly difficult times but everyone is working together and looking out for each other.”
Cameron McQueen of Turning Point said: “For people nationwide to be supporting their local brewers in droves shows how unique and wonderful this industry can be. That said, it’s hard to overestimate the damage this period can and will have on small breweries, all fighting to survive.”
Turning Point had brewed several collaboration beers with other breweries and has now cancelled the various launch events and organised an online tasting event instead, for customers who bought the beers online.
Wayne Smith from Brew York said their focus now was on online sales of canned beers. He said: “Local support has been fantastic. We’re down to a skeleton crew now and working hard to fulfil the orders that have been coming through.”
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