We’re 10 months into the coronavirus. Cases are still skyrocketing, and staying open or closed or even wearing a mask still sparks arguments. The state of California’s health order has ordered hospitality businesses closed for anything except takeout orders in an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
It feels like a good time to check in with some local San Diego breweries to see how they are responding in the moment.
Up first is Vista-based Mother Earth Brewing Co. Partner and Director of Marketing Kamron Khannakhjavani took a few moments to answer my questions.
Cheers: Mother Earth Brewing has been complying with the California health order. Besides the obvious legal reasons, are there any other motivators to do so when so many breweries have (very publicly) chosen not too, often seemingly without repercussions (so far)?
Kamron: There are a few motivating factors for this. Number one is that we recognize the severity of this virus, and it’s incumbent upon us to follow the guidance of public health organizations and officials to mitigate its spread.
History has shown us that a failure to remain disciplined, particularly during a surge like the one we are seeing now, has led to drastic results, and though in the short term it negatively impacts our business, it also prolongs the effects of the pandemic. We figure it’s a pay now or pay later situation.
Secondly, our entire business hinges on beer manufacturing, and if we violate orders or recommendations and bring someone into the “safe zone” that infects our essential workers, we’re screwed. If we can’t make beer, what the hell are we going to do? I realize not everyone has the same business or distribution model as we do, but I can’t imagine having to shut down for weeks at a time. It would be devastating.
Cheers: How has COVID-19 impacted your brewery so far? What adjustments have you made, and what are your expectations for 2021?
Kamron: Like many others, the impact to on-premise sales was huge. It was 50% of our overall business. We’ve lost employees in nearly every corner of the brewery and shut down our tasting rooms for periods of time. It was terrible. In response we followed demand. We moved almost all of our production to cans, as folks started shopping for beer to take home rather than drink on-site.
Unfortunately, our expectations for 2021 look like Groundhog Day. On-premise will remain tenuous as consumers reluctantly begin gathering post-vaccination, and cans will continue to dominate. I don’t see anything monumental occurring in the coming months, certainly not returning to “normal.”
Cheers: What is the best way for North County residents to get their hands on some of your beer, and what should we be looking out for? Does it matter if we order from our local grocery or better to order direct from Mother Earth?
Kamron: Well, our beer is pretty widely available since we sell through the best SoCal distributorship, Stone. We just released NITRO Cali Creamin’ not too long ago and everyone’s favorite DIPA, Hop Diggity, is now available year-round. That just dropped this week. In addition to that we’ve got a rotating Hazy series called Project X that is putting out something new about every 60 days.
Obviously, we make more money when we sell it ourselves, but our hours are limited for to-go sales so if they don’t coincide with your schedule, by all means supporting our retailers is just as good. After all, they are businesses in need as well, and they should get credit for supporting us during these difficult times.
Cheers: Anything you’d like to add?
Kamron: I’m not going to judge another business for having to make tough decisions. I‘m glad I am not desperate enough to have to break the rules. My hope is that the folks that are putting themselves and others at risk are doing it in the interest of last-ditch self-preservation, which I am sure they are.
Lastly, there are a lot of ways folks can help outside of buying beer or gear.
Here’s a short list:
- Subscribe to our newsletter.
- Follow us on social media, including Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
- Engage with our social posts such as likes, comments, shares, and saves.
- Post pictures with our beers on social and tag us.
- Leave us peer reviews on sites like Facebook, Yelp, Google, Foursquare, Yellow Pages, Trip Advisor.
- Word of mouth: Tell your friends and family about us and share your beers with others!
Do you listen to podcasts? Are you interested in interesting things being done by interesting people in North County San Diego. Be sure to check out the most recent episode of the Cheers! North County podcast. Stream it on The Coast News online or search for it on your favorite podcast platforms including Apple Podcasts and Spotify.
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