‘People need beer’: Craft breweries deliver to drinkers in lockdown
- Credit: Paul Torode
With pubs closed once more and beer festivals a distant dream, independent breweries in North London have transformed into online retailers, offering click-and-collect and delivery services to bring beer directly to customers.
The past year has been “a shock to everyone’s system”, said Sam Laub, who runs Gorgeous Brewery behind The Bull pub, in North Hill, with her brother Rob.
When lockdowns descended, the Highgate community rallied around: local shops, cafés and customers were “lovely and ordered cases of beer directly from us”, said Sam.
The brewery also partnered with subscription beer brands, such as Brew Republic. Sam said: “Through them, you get out to all of their subscribers and around the country."
John Cryne from the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) said craft breweries had put in effort to move to online orders, "making deliveries to people like us who are trapped at home”.
He recently awarded Moncada Brewery in Dollis Hill CAMRA’s ‘Lockdown Hero’ prize for serving drinkers during the pandemic. “It’s great to acknowledge what people such as Julio Moncada and his team have been doing to keep people supplied with their beer,” he said. “Julio even does the deliveries himself.”
James Atherton said that his brewery, Beerblefish Brewery in Edmonton, was selling 90 per cent of its beer in big casks before the first lockdown in March 2020. At that point, many larger breweries “pretty much shut down their operations,” he said, but the demand from drinkers and bottle shops slowly recovered: “people need beer,” as he put it. The team pivoted “almost exclusively” to making bottles and mini-kegs. “We had some weeks that were absolutely crazy, and we had other weeks that were absolutely dead - but overall, we’ve done alright out of this year, by being small and able to adapt quickly.”
The Goodness Brewing Co. in Wood Green have been unable to use their spacious tap room for much of the past year. Instead, they have been delivering their own beer and pizzas and are now crowdfunding a canning machine. Co-founder Zack Ahmed said it would help make brewing “faster and cheaper” and allow them to create “one-off special” beers.