Microbreweries facing challenges during pandemic

In recent years, the microbrewery industry has taken off, and has contributed to local economies in many communities, large and small, across the country. But the pandemic is taking a toll on the bottom line, and owners are urging the public to support their local brewery.

Posted: Sep 26, 2020 1:50 AM

NORTHWOOD, Iowa - In recent years, the microbrewery industry has taken off, and has contributed to local economies in many communities, large and small, across the country. But the pandemic is taking a toll on the bottom line, and owners are urging the public to support their local brewery.

The Worth Brewing Company was one of many breweries across Iowa that were forced to close for a time earlier this year due to COVID-19 concerns. During the four months the taproom was closed, it kept business going through bottled beer to-go, which helped recuperate about 50% of their on-site sales. However, they still lost money, as well as 100% of their distribution sales due to restaurants closing. While business has picked up quickly after reopening, it has slowed down within the past month.

Owner Peter Ausenhus is preparing for Oktoberfest, which will be held this weekend. This is the first big event for the brewery this year, as the pandemic has cancelled other scheduled events.

"We really rely on those days to pay for the down periods in a small town like this. It hurts not just us, but businesses that have particular time periods they need to bring in the revenue."

However, it might be into next year before business returns to normal levels.

"I think it's a matter of months, hopefully by sometime next year, that we'll be coming back to the way it was."

If another shutdown were to occur, Ausenhus says some microbrewery owners may have to make the painful decision to permanently close, which could have ripple effects on the local economy.

"It's become a big tourist destination, these small breweries. Not just the breweries, but they're an anchor for other small businesses in their area, people will come here and do shopping elsewhere. It's a very difficult situation. Hopefully, we won't have too many closures, but I'd be surprised if there weren't.

"Things like ultimately closing will have to be on the table. You can only have so much money, and then it's gone. Then your bank wants the money, and your landlord wants the money and the electric company wants the money. Closing's ultimately would be the only option at that point.

"My one hope is that people become more appreciative of local businesses and how much they would miss them if they were gone."

At the start of the shutdown, Ausenhus had to lay off his assistant brewer, though he was able to bring him back a month later thanks to some help from the paycheck protection program.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 915942

Reported Deaths: 9606
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1786832038
Ramsey739711046
Dakota67683587
Anoka64112577
Washington40545359
Stearns33631279
St. Louis29591409
Scott25994186
Wright25957217
Olmsted22339130
Sherburne19000127
Carver1670669
Clay12104105
Blue Earth1147970
Rice11451138
Crow Wing11213123
Chisago995379
Kandiyohi9815108
Otter Tail9813127
Benton9033125
Beltrami816997
Goodhue811798
Douglas7875101
Itasca772299
Mower733449
McLeod713084
Winona710258
Isanti700783
Steele685731
Morrison672879
Becker628574
Polk603187
Freeborn561246
Carlton546974
Mille Lacs532479
Lyon528461
Nobles525054
Nicollet522460
Pine515043
Cass501253
Todd492843
Brown470759
Le Sueur459734
Meeker433458
Martin386544
Wabasha375510
Waseca374333
Dodge361112
Hubbard355249
Roseau316231
Fillmore305315
Wadena302940
Redwood281445
Houston272017
Renville268451
Faribault258233
Sibley252317
Pennington252130
Kanabec250136
Cottonwood230132
Aitkin222450
Chippewa220542
Pope207410
Watonwan198020
Yellow Medicine188023
Rock177729
Koochiching176725
Swift173123
Stevens167511
Jackson161016
Clearwater158020
Marshall153522
Murray151811
Pipestone149729
Lake132924
Lac qui Parle123025
Wilkin121116
Mahnomen106014
Norman10509
Grant101510
Big Stone9485
Lincoln8805
Kittson73223
Red Lake71410
Traverse6056
Unassigned545124
Lake of the Woods5265
Cook3071

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 525758

Reported Deaths: 7379
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk81677809
Linn32838430
Scott27126295
Black Hawk22334382
Woodbury20736263
Johnson20150108
Dubuque18996243
Pottawattamie16215214
Dallas15573115
Story1398059
Warren8637107
Cerro Gordo8141125
Clinton7928115
Webster7419124
Des Moines7153106
Marshall675494
Muscatine6717117
Wapello6546145
Jasper630591
Sioux622477
Lee5977106
Marion567697
Buena Vista503449
Plymouth493388
Henry427155
Benton414760
Jones413564
Bremer403873
Boone397042
Washington395464
Carroll373355
Mahaska372366
Crawford355647
Jackson324047
Dickinson317555
Buchanan312743
Delaware303255
Clay297636
Kossuth293477
Fayette290356
Hardin289253
Tama282878
Page276133
Wright270050
Cedar269527
Winneshiek267744
Hamilton262757
Floyd261049
Clayton252360
Poweshiek242043
Harrison240979
Madison237425
Butler237346
Cass235667
Iowa234336
Jefferson228544
Mills225330
Hancock222840
Winnebago222339
Cherokee217347
Appanoose210157
Lyon209842
Allamakee209456
Calhoun199519
Shelby199542
Union197141
Humboldt188231
Franklin188031
Grundy186137
Chickasaw184522
Mitchell184343
Emmet180146
Louisa178653
Sac175626
Guthrie169338
Clarke163629
Montgomery163146
Keokuk152639
Palo Alto152332
Howard150624
Monroe144340
Ida134141
Greene128818
Davis126825
Lucas126127
Monona124940
Worth12309
Pocahontas122125
Adair118239
Osceola105718
Decatur104813
Taylor100914
Fremont98913
Van Buren95922
Wayne86125
Ringgold78429
Audubon77617
Adams5869
Unassigned500
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