The Real Reason Breweries Might Have To Dump Their Beer

The coronavirus ripple effect continues to grow by the week. The pandemic isn't just having a major impact on grocery stores and restaurants, but has also impacted the sale of frozen pizzas — and now draft beer. Draft beer is, by and large, mostly sold in bars and restaurants, and with nearly all of them across the United States closed, that draft beer isn't getting used (via Food & Wine). Distributed sales of draft beer are down by more than 90 percent and it's causing major concern for breweries. It's not much better for the on-site sales of draft beer at breweries either, and those are down by 65 percent. 

Unfortunately, breweries across the United States are having to dump their kegs of beer because its shelf-life is expiring. "We're looking at a lot of kegs in my distributor's warehouse that are getting to that point where we have to look at options, and the top option is to dump it all," South Carolina COAST Brewing Co. co-owner Jaime Tenny told The Post and Courier. Expired beer won't kill you, but it doesn't taste very good and nobody wants to buy a flat, funky tasting beer.

The pandemic could wipe out many breweries

That headline certainly seems grim, but it could be the reality for a swath of U.S. breweries and The Wall Street Journal has reported that a million kegs could be going down the drain. 

A study by the Texas Craft Brewers Guild found that 63 percent of responding breweries had to layoff or furlough staff (via Craft Brewing Business). Around 80 percent of South Carolina breweries cant survive more than three months under the current economic conditions (via Miami Herald). The outlook isn't much better for most breweries, regardless if they're located in Los Angeles or Vermont

As for what breweries are doing with all this draft beer, there seem to be four options, with the final one being easier said than done. Distill it down for products like hand sanitizer, compost it, or call up the local wastewater treatment facility to have carted off. As Food & Wine points out, it is possible to take draft beer and repackage it into cans, but it's not easy. Since most people can't drink a keg by themselves, and gatherings of more than 10 people in many places are prohibited, selling those kegs to the general public isn't likely.