A Beer Lover’s Nightmare: They’re Dumping Draft Brew

Earlier this month, workers at Bauhaus Brew Labs wondered what to do with the Wheat Sweats, its spring seasonal beer. The Minneapolis brewery had finished the second batch of the beer, a banana-scented hefeweizen, before Minnesota moved to prevent the spread of the coronavirus outbreak by ending on-premises sales at bars, restaurants and taprooms on March 17.

Demand for draft beer dried up, and Bauhaus kegs and cans filled its distributor’s warehouse, with no need for new inventory. On April 21, in a scene reminiscent of Prohibition, the brewery decided to send more than 900 gallons of perfectly good beer down the drain. For Bauhaus and other craft breweries, kegging or canning beer that can’t be sold would be a wasted expense. And the beer is quickly approaching the dates set for peak freshness and quality, which then start to decline.

“It was a painful decision, and not one that we have ever had to make,” said Drew Hurst, the director of operations. But with plenty of beer already on hand, “there was literally nothing that we could do with it.”

“That would kill me,” Mr. Brown said.

The brewery quickly pivoted to beat the clock. By the end of March, Barley Brown’s began canning its popular Pallet Jack I.P.A., something Mr. Brown had sworn he would never do. “I would rather eat a lot of crow than send beer to a sewer,” he said.

To get draft beer into customers’ hands, breweries are getting creative with packaging.

With the absence of sales at bars and restaurants, beer distributors nationwide are sitting on stacks of unneeded kegs slowly approaching their expiration dates. “Suddenly, 60,000 gallons of beer in my cooler are going out of code,” David J. Farrell, the president and chief executive of Farrell Distributing, wrote in an email.

Most beer will likely not have a second life. As weeks of shelter-in-place orders stretch into months, brewers’ hard work may increasingly go down the drain.

“I never thought it would be anything I’d do in my brewing career,” said Joe Correia, the head brewer and an owner.

The process takes three to four days, involving constant measurements for damaging exposure to oxygen and bacterial infection, before the brewery cans beers such as its Runner Up pilsner and Heavy Crown imperial stout.

“There’s no reason this beer should go to waste,” Mr. Correia said.

source: nytimes.com

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