Indiana craft brew industry struggling due to pandemic

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Craft beer was an industry spreading like wildfire in Indiana before the coronavirus pandemic brought everything to a halt in April.

It provides nearly 8,000 full-time jobs for Hoosiers and accounts for rough $1 billion in economic impact throughout the whole of Indiana. Now, like any other business, it’s a matter of adapting to fit the times in order to meet the bottom line, says Rob Caputo with the Brewers of Indiana Guild.

“You’ve had a lot of layoffs, a lot of furloughs. I think some folks have been doing pretty well, as far as just trying to manage this. And I don’t mean making money hand over fist,” he told Inside Indiana Business.

Caputo said tough decisions have had to be made, such as the case of 3 Floyds in Munster. The 24-year-old brewery made the decision to shut down indefinitely over a month ago saying “the safety of our customers and staff is our first priority, and at this time, we do not have immediate plans to reopen 3 Floyds Brewpub for bar or dine-in service.”

Nick Floyd, the founder of 3 Floyds, told the Chicago Tribune could open in a year or two.

“People have had to make decisions, like 3 Floyds, pulling back on the front of the house in the restaurant,” Caputo added. “Once you start looking at the financial’s, what are the margins? Is this valuable to the business in the short term? And how many people are going to come out anyway? We don’t know.”

Caputo gives props to state leaders for relaxing certain restrictions when it comes to selling alcohol to patrons curbside in order to help breweries and brewpubs to continue selling their product.

But, the pandemic has had a big impact on the Indiana Brewers Guild itself he said. The organization lobbies for and provides certain services for breweries in Indiana. Since it’s a 501-C(6) trade association the Brewers Guild was not eligible to receive a PPP loan.

Caputo said the Brewers Guild generates a lot of its funding by putting on events such as Broad Ripple Beer Fest, Bloomington Craft Beer Festival, and Indiana Microbrewers Fest. With all those events either postponed or canceled, the funding is drying up and thus the Guild has been forced to furlough most of its staff.

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