Taprooms closed, local breweries lose bulk of business

Coronavirus

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Small breweries across Grand Rapids and the country are struggling to survive the coronavirus crisis.

A national survey put out by The Brewers Association shows how the pandemic has caused profit losses, production changes and layoffs. Out of nearly 1,000 small breweries surveyed, 90.9% stated COVID-19 has impacted their business, with 85% of respondents indicating they’ve had to close their taprooms for the time being.

Several taprooms in the Grand Rapids area, like Speciation Artisan Ales, have come to that same decision.

“The small breweries like us have basically made most of our money through our taprooms,” Speciation Artisan Ales owner Mitch Ermatinger said. “So a lot of us are adjusting how we do business to still survive.”

Ermatinger said sales now rely on deliveries to the customer’s doorstep.

“Right now we’re relying on distribution, which cuts into your profit margin a lot,” Ermatinger said. “It’s about 60% of our business that’s vanished overnight.”

Ermatinger said it’s unlikely every local brewery will be able to survive this pandemic.

“I can’t say who and I don’t know who, but it’s just such a massive impact on all of us that there’s no way everybody’s going to survive, unfortunately,” he said.

In order to survive, Ermatinger is calling on the community for their continued support.

“We won’t survive as Beer City without the support of everybody,” said. “I know a lot of people have had their incomes cut, myself and my family and all my staff included, but I know my staff and my family are making a point to support local businesses right now.”

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