BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - With bars closed, taprooms shuttered to the public, and U.S. alcohol consumption up nearly 55% since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, local brewers have all the demand and supply they can handle. They just have nowhere to sell... unless they get creative.
“We’re empty,” lamented Kevin Whalen, founder of Rally Cap Brewing.
A fine coat of dust covers all the tables in his brand new tap room. These tables have not been used in three weeks.
“It almost feels like before we opened,” his co-owner, Jeremy Brown, called out as he spritzed a dusty table-top and wiped it down.
Whalen and Brown decided to close their taproom March 16, before Governor John Bel Edwards ordered all bars closed.
“It seemed like the right thing to do,” Brown said.
But “right” does not feed the bottom line of a brewery, and it doesn’t fill the seats of a sports bar.
“It’s definitely turned our business upside down,” Whalen added. “We’re really excited about [baseball’s] opening day.”
Rally Cap Brewing had been in business just three months, supplying local bars with its own craft beers, when COVID-19 yanked the rug out from under the owners.
“Our First Pitch is our pale ale, and it’s in a lot of bars around town right now, but all the bars are closed,” Whalen said. “We’re not able to distribute beer anywhere.”
Today, his taps are dry and his cooler is full. Business is down almost 40%.
“We get most of our revenue from people coming in, sitting down, and having a pint or two of beer,” Whalen said. “People can’t do that at all right now.”
That’s when these two sports fans called an audible... or put on a rally cap, so to speak.
They opened up the back door, and set up the darndest lemonade stand you’ve ever seen... for adults only, of course.
“We made the decision to sell to-go beer only,” said Brown.
They started the day they closed the taproom. Brown says they see many of their regular customers a couple times per week. They have even found new business from their sidewalk beer stand.
Whalen and Brown sell their pints by the can and by the four-pack. Heck, they will even pour you a draft and put a lid on it, as long as you take it with you.
"The important thing," Whalen said, "is we've got plenty of beer."
They say their lemonade stand knockoff has been an interesting side venture, but they can’t wait until this is over when they can talk business and box scores over a cold one.
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