Boy, oh boy, the pandemic has really made a mess of things for our brewery neighbors, hasn’t it? Even after tourism started to pick up again this summer, regional restaurant restrictions and mandates hindered capacity for brewpubs and taprooms, forcing craft breweries to turn their sights to off-premise retail sales. The strategy increased the variety of brews on the shelf at the store (yay!) but also created a massive supply chain shortage of aluminum cans, exacerbating the issue for many of our small brewery partners.
This holiday, there’s an easy way to help out your struggling brew business neighbor: buy their beer. For your dinner parties, office parties, stocking stuffers, white elephant gifts, random acts of kindness (I’ve often thought about dropping a sixer of a local brew trail-side on the PCT for through-hikers as a way of saying “Welcome to Central Oregon!”). Beer-themed gifts are a versatile (and appreciated) present.
And I’m not talking about your giant breweries, either — those big players that produce in your market, have national distribution, and sponsor a TON of great events (and we thank you!). In my neck of the woods, Deschutes Brewery and 10 Barrel Brewing (now an AB company) fit that category. They’re both great breweries with national distribution. If a visitor in my market asks, I’ll happily point them in their direction.
AND the soul of your destination’s microbrew community — and your distillery community, and your winery community — is really with the small players. The new guys who are just breaking into the market and finding their place. They bring an exciting level of newness and energy and experimentation to not only your visitors but to locals like you and your workmates, and they celebrate entrepreneurship and creativity in your market.
These are the Tiny Tims of the brew community this post-pandemic holiday. And helping them out is just good for the soul.
This holiday season, (obviously) shop local. But don’t forget that beer and wine and spirits from producers in your own community not only make great gifts but celebrate the flavor, spirit, and resiliency of your destination. And that’s worth supporting.
Footnote: At the time of writing, I was enjoying a pint of the Sippycup Hazy Pale from Bend’s own GoodLife Brewing. And it was delicious.