By Chris Heagney
COVID-19 has turned our region’s flourishing food and beverage community on its head. For an industry that relies so heavily on tourism and customers with expendable income, it has been disorienting for many businesses. The timing has also been less than perfect. Craft beverage in Asheville is a somewhat seasonal trade: bars and stores do most of their business from spring until New Year’s Eve, then experience a lull from January to the beginning of March or April. The much anticipated season kick-off has been delayed.
Small, local producers are what make this community special, and it’s more important than ever to support your favorite breweries, cideries and distilleries while adhering to local and state social distancing guidelines. Perhaps the easiest way to patronize a business is by purchasing a gift card either by phone or online. AshevilleStrong.org is a great resource for finding out who is offering gift cards and how to pay for them.
Another great option is curbside pickup. Methods of sales differ from business to business, but the concept is essentially the same: make an order by phone or online, and your bottles, cans or growlers will be ready for you at a specified time. Places like Ginger’s Revenge have an online ordering system so no one is physically exchanging credit cards or cash. Others are open for a few hours each day for the public to come by and pick up whiskey, beer or cider to go.
One measure the state has taken to aid the craft beverage industry is by allowing producers to make home deliveries. Places like Wedge Brewing Company are delivering crowlers and cans directly to your house. Most breweries have an online shop you can order through, and some take orders by phone.
As an industry, we are so grateful for everyone’s support. These are strange and trying times for everyone and I hope you all are staying safe at home. It’s important to remember that, although we may not know exactly when, this will indeed come to an end. When that time comes, we can return to enjoying one another’s company shoulder to shoulder on barstools and picnic tables. In the meantime, I hope you are indulging in some of your favorite drinks on the porch, in your backyard or at the table with your family.
Christopher Heagney is the owner of Daidala Ciders, located in Asheville at the Cotton Mill Studios at 122 Riverside Drive.