The emergence of COVID-19 and the resulting public health crisis has shaken us all to our very foundation. The response from health care professionals, government officials, and the public at-large to mitigate the rapid spread of the virus has been unprecedented.
Here at Surly Brewing Co. we’re trying to make sense of the situation. We’re adapting our business to this new landscape, while being mindful of the safety and wellbeing of our employees and customers. The closure of our own hospitality operations—the beer hall at our Destination Brewery, Surly Pizza Upstairs and Scheid Hall event center—coupled with the loss of our partners in the bar, restaurant, and entertainment industries has been a huge change. The undeniable truth is that this crisis has taken a massive toll on our business, and we don’t yet know what the long-term effects will be once the worst of this is behind us.
Over the past several weeks, we’ve had to make some incredibly difficult decisions. As one of the largest employers in Minnesota craft beer—operating one of the largest breweries and largest restaurants in the Twin Cities—we’ve been hit doubly hard. And we know we are not alone. Thousands of other local businesses are all struggling to adapt to the new reality of life during a pandemic.
But there is hope. We’re still making and selling packaged beer to liquor stores across our distribution footprint, and we’re able to maintain a staff of 80 employees. With the help of our incredible distribution partners and loyal customers, canned beer sales are keeping Surly afloat during this crisis. The people of Surly Nation helped us change the law in 2011 and paved the way for breweries to open their own taprooms. This very same craft beer community is keeping Surly and the craft beer industry alive, proving now more than ever, we are in this together.
For us, when things get tough, we go back to doing what we do best: making great beer. It’s what we do, it’s what we know, it’s who we are. Just this week, we’re preparing to launch several new beers into the market; the return of our spring seasonal beer Stunner Tropical Ale and the introduction of our new Hop Pack—our newest variety selection. We’ve pivoted to a to-go and delivery model in our restaurant to keep going. We’re providing supplemental food (and beer!) for our furloughed employees that helped build this company. We’re still making plans, and we’re still hustling. We’re trying to provide hope.
One of the best silver linings we’ve seen during these dark and difficult weeks, is that more than ever, people are choosing to support the local businesses that mean so much to them. By supporting these local retailers—your neighborhood restaurant, brewery, or liquor store—you’re directly supporting your neighbors, friends, and community. These dollars are more important now than ever, and for many of us, it could mean the difference between surviving this crisis and closing shop forever. By choosing local, you’re investing in the future you want to see. When all of this is over, and we’re out of the collective woods, we hope to raise a toast of Minnesota beer together in celebration of making it through to better days. Until then, stay safe. We will see you soon.