We live in interesting times. I know it’s bad out there, but the best thing to do is to take a deep breath and figure out the best path forward to get through this. Anecdotally, I am hearing inspiring reports from our members about their fans supporting them by partaking in their to-go services. This will get better one day, and your customers support you. Please reach out and let me know how you’re doing.

COVID-19 Information and Resources updates

I am updating the Guild’s COVID-19 information and resources page daily as new information comes in. All the recent changes are reflected below.

Review your listing on the FTH COVID page

This is only for businesses that are limited to only to-go sales, either by government mandate or by choice. We may expand the listing at a later time, but honestly it’s a big task and this is all we have the bandwidth for at this time.

Although the page is “live” it won’t be publicized until Thursday. Please shoot me and Rich Partain (rich@freethehops.org) any updates or anything we’re missing today in order to be included in the first blitz.

Please keep the information concise and limited to information a customer needs to partake – hours, call-in number, online ordering link, etc. When and how can they patronize you? That’s all.

New counties closing bars and restaurants

Yesterday, the Alabama Department of Public Health extended the on-premise closures of food and drink establishments to all counties surrounding Jefferson (Walker, Tuscaloosa, St. Clair, Shelby, and Blount).

I have been asked if breweries and distilleries should self-impose a shutdown of on-premise operations. I’m not going to recommend you to do that. But do follow government mandates and guidance from the CDC and the Department of Public Health.

ABC issues emergency rule on curbside pickup

Effective noon today, the ABC has authorized curbside pickup for all on- and off-premise licensees, including breweries. However, these sales are restricted to one 750 mL of wine, one 750 mL bottle of liquor, or one six pack of beer per customer.

I have expressed my frustration with the Administrator on these restrictions, and I am considering the best way to escalate this. It’s a slap in the face to small, local business.

For many breweries and distilleries, it is probably best to continue what you’re doing on your licensed premises without the one bottle, one six-pack restriction. You may also make sales on patio areas connected to your business, provided they are not readily visible from a church or school.

For licensed brewpubs, this does give you the ability to sell a six-pack, of any beer you’ve purchased from your wholesaler, for curbside pickup.

Updates on sales taxes and excise taxes

We are talking to folks about suspending both sales and excise taxes. On both counts, the executive branch is telling us that they can’t do that without an act of the legislature.

For excise taxes, I stand by what I said yesterday. I have never heard of the ABC charging penalties for late taxes. You could technically have your license suspended for failing to pay, but I’ve seen one small brewery coast for about a year before being seriously approached by the ABC.

For sales taxes, I personally believe the Governor has options, but it looks like a dead end for now. But we and other industry associations are continuing to pursue this.

Disaster Loans

do have word from the Governor’s office that they are working hard on the necessary bureaucracy to make Alabama businesses eligible for emergency loans. Unfortunately I was not given a timeline.

Brewers Association Letter to Congress

The BA is working on a draft letter to Congress, and they have given me permission to share that draft with Guild members. We will also be drafting a letter with a similar message to Alabama’s Congressional delegation.

BA Letter to Congress

The reality is that any serious relief program is going to come from the federal government. We can work on state tax relief and ABC restrictions, but Alabama is a relatively poor state with extremely tight budgets.