Restrictions on group gatherings throughout the state and “stay-at-home” orders in Portland, South Portland and Brunswick have temporarily stopped taprooms in Maine’s thriving craft brewing industry.
Breweries are delivering to homes and offering curbside pickup — but they’re in a fight for their lives. The closed taprooms and takeout-only limitations in restaurants are hurting their total business.
Co-owner of Rising Tide Brewing in Portland Heather Sanborn said the business laid off 19 workers and only has six left, including the two owners.
“We’re not just losing money in the taproom. We supply beer to bars and restaurants,” she said. “Our keg beer sales are down to zero. Our revenue is one-third or less of what it had been.”
Orono Brewing Co., which has locations in Orono and Bangor, is seeing a 50 percent decrease in overall revenue, owner Abe Furth said. He had to lay off all but five of his staff of 30 employees.
“We’re not selling draft beer, which was half of our sales. All of our sales are now in cans,” he said.
Orono Brewing started delivering beer last week and today is starting curbside pickup for pre-ordered beer.
“The goal is to create convenience and keep everyone safe,” Furth said. “Everything is week-to-week. We’re looking at what is allowed.”
Before the coronavirus hit, Maine’s craft brewing industry had been growing strongly for the past five years. A 2019 study found that craft breweries and related activities in Maine contributed $260 million to the Maine economy and 2,560 jobs.