Local Breweries Are Getting Clever In the Time of COVID-19

The Milwaukee brewery community has been forced to adapt during the health crisis.

Breweries are certainly feeling the strain of having taprooms closed to patrons. But Milwaukee’s brewing community is both resilient and clever. Many of the locals are getting creative when it comes to keeping in touch with their clientele and staying busy during the shutdown due to coronavirus.

Curbside beer pickup has been a popular option among plenty of breweries and restaurants, but there are other activities that breweries have been doing to keep busy during this weird time.

Following is a sample of the amazing things that those in the craft beer business are doing. Check with your favorite brewery to see what they have in the works, and support them if you can.


Cheers, Virtually

MobCraft Beer hosted a beer festival, Sour Fest, online on March 28. They’ve also started the daily NoRona Happy Hour to stay in touch with the beer drinking community using Instagram Live and Zoom to host virtual brewery tours, a pet show-and-tell and even a virtual flip cup tournament. “We are certainly trying to come up with ideas to make people feel happy during this time,” said Elise Strupp, the event and programming manager at MobCraft.

Third Space Brewing is also reaching out on social media. The brewery is still having its Brewmaster’s Toast every Friday at 5:45 p.m., but now they’re doing it on Facebook. Third Space also hosts Sippin’ with Sales on Instagram Live every Wednesday at 6 p.m., where patrons can learn from the sales team about beer and other stuff.

Raised Grain Brewing is in the business of teaching during the shutdown. They’ve hosted a Facebook Live event on how to play cribbage and they have one planned for Euchre. Learning is good.

Taprooms are trying to keep up what’s normal. So, places like Explorium and Stock House are moving their weekly trivia nights online. “Our customer base is just hungry to engage with us on any level,” said Explorium owner Mike Doble.


Helping Others

Third Space Brewing Curbside Bingo
A Third Space Curbside Bingo Card

Local breweries are continuing to show that they’re big fans of altruism.

Third Space gets kudos for its Curbside Pickup Bingo. The program rewards you for patronizing other businesses and tagging them on social channels. Download a “card” from the Third Space Facebook page that features all sorts of local restaurants that offer pickup or delivery. When you make it to five places you win free beer. Third Space is also offering $5 growlers for service industry folks who’ve lost their jobs.

Stock House Brewing is offering a brewery tour in the future. Buy a $40 gift card to Stock House and you get a space on a brewery bus hop tour in August to Black Husky Brewing, Broken Bat Brewing and Dead Bird Brewing. A portion of your $40 payment goes to those breweries right away.

Lakefront Brewery is running a gift card promotion to raise funds for laid off employees. Buy a gift card at a 10% discount, and 25% of the proceeds go to employees.

Raised Grain is also sponsoring the Underground Online Music Series to help local musicians get through this tough time.


Quality Brewing Time

Several brewers are crafting batches that we can all look forward to in the near future and when we can be social again.

Raised Grain is brewing, and eventually canning, a double-dry-hopped version of its Naked Threesome IPA.

Matt Hoffmann at Sahale Ale Works is taking the time and lower brewing volume to create some long-aged beers.

Black Husky Brewing founder Tim Eichinger is also using the downtime to focus on brewing. “I am also working on new beers,” he said. “I think we’re the only brewery in the universe that hasn’t done a hazy (IPA), so maybe I’ll do that.”


Planning Ahead

Broken Bat Brewing has spent the shutdown moving into a new location at 135 E. Pittsburgh Ave., which opened on April 1 for to-go beer orders. They’ll be taking reservations to use their indoor Wiffle ball field soon. In related news, Broken Bat has an indoor Wiffle ball field.

“This has honestly been the most insane 14 days of my entire life,” said Broken Bat co-founder Tim Pauly. “But Milwaukee is a resilient city, and these brewers and our supporters are even more resilient. Beer, sunshine, and baseball are ahead of us. That’s what keeps us going.”


 

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Dan Murphy has been reviewing bars for Milwaukee Magazine for roughly 15 years. He’s been doing his own independent research in them for close to 25.