STORIES BY KATIE BUCKLEY

Local Breweries Slowly Making a Comeback after Pandemic Restrictions Lifted

Published: Oct. 16, 2020

For Bold City Brewery and Intuition Ale Works, pandemic restrictions have struck their businesses hard over these past few months. With taprooms closed, they struggled with supplementing their lost income.

Mass produced canned beer for shipments at Bold City Brewery. Photo by Katie Buckley.

Most tap rooms closed down in Jacksonville from March to May before being allowed to open at a limited capacity. In those months, business dropped substantially. 

These breweries relied on to-go sales to keep themselves afloat. While people couldn’t come in and grab a pint and chat, they could still support their local breweries by buying canned beer.

Breweries kicked production into high gear. Draft sales went down, as restaurants around the area closed. Some breweries, like Bold City and Intuition, were lucky enough to have their products in grocery stores. Other businesses had to rely on people picking up canned beer at the brewery’s front door. 

The pandemic didn’t just affect sales, staff were also faced with many problems. Bold City didn’t lose any of their tight-knit staff. However, they were forced to cut the staff’s pay by 20% in order to survive in the pandemic.

Intuition wasn’t as lucky. 

Canned beer for shipments and sale at Intuition Ale Works. Courtesy: Facebook/Intuition Ale Works Facebook.

“While our production team continued to work, our bartenders were forced to look for other work during this time,” Lindsay Hawkins, Intuition’s general manager, said. “Luckily, we are getting most of them back now.”

Intuition is an event-driven brewery in Downtown Jacksonville. The pandemic halted that side of their business. Numerous private events, such as weddings and concerts, were canceled.

Bold City was able to get a restaurant license for their taproom, which allowed people in during the bar and brewery restrictions. They said it was easy to obtain the license and it helped Bold City slowly start to recover their business.

While restrictions were harsh, the legislature went out of their way to discuss matters with bars and breweries. 

Susan Miller, co-owner of Bold City Brewery, said,

“They [legislature] specifically met with bars and breweries to try and figure out how to get them back open. They understood the impact and the difference between a bar and brewery.”

Still, business isn’t the same as before the pandemic. Taproom closures put a significant dent in breweries’ profits. Even after reopening, many people have stayed home for safety reasons.

However, the community was supportive throughout these months. To-go sales may not have equated to taproom sales, but they allowed breweries to keep personable connections with their customers.

With restrictions lifting and events around the city happening more frequently, breweries hope business will pick up. Taprooms are now completely open, but safety measures are still being taken.

Tables in Bold City’s taproom are spaced apart for guest comfort and safety – Intuition is just the same. These breweries even switched from glass to plastic cups to minimize contact between guests.

These breweries aren’t sure what will happen next, but they’re trying their best to go back to normal.