The first wave of B.C. craft brewery and cidery tasting rooms is set to reopen this week following the provincial government’s decision to ease restrictions on social distancing. Food primary-licenced establishments—like restaurants, and some pubs and brewery tasting rooms—were allowed to open for the first time in two months under strict social distancing guidelines that includes reduced capacity and spaced seating.
However, there is presently no date set to reopen craft brewery and cidery tasting rooms with a liquor primary licence—as well as some pubs, bars and nightclubs.
While food primary establishments were officially allowed to reopen as of Tuesday, May 19, many craft breweries are taking longer in order to comply with the province’s regulations.
Kerry Dyson is the head brewer at BREWHALL in Vancouver and says his establishment will be reopening on Tuesday, May 26 in order to make sure the brewery and staff are ready and comfortable with the new regulations.
In order to comply with the province’s social distancing guidelines, guests at BREWHALL will no longer be able to seat themselves, tables will be spaced two metres apart, the brewery’s video game arcade has been temporarily and take-out and off sales will be done through the back door.
Dyson said the COVID-19 pandemic has reduced sales by close to 85%, and he doesn’t expect things to return to normal overnight.
“It will likely be a few months, or longer before returning to previous levels, and it is hard to picture those really busy Friday and Saturday nights with people singing and dancing,” he said. “That being said, the landscape could be quite different—many liquor primary businesses will not be open for some months, so those guests are going to find another way to socialize. Days of the week could become a little bit more irrelevant, as busy times are not going to be the prime times, non busy evenings are going to be more comfortable for many guests.”
Many craft breweries that are reopening will be reducing hours and continuing to offer delivery and takeout options.
Tinhouse Brewing in Port Coquitlam held a “Not So Grand” Reopening on Tuesday, with changes to its normal operations including no flights, no growler refills, self-busing of glassware, as well as reduced seating, increased sanitation measures and safe distancing.
“We did not want to make a big deal out of it, to control the numbers. But, we are now open again for draft beer sales,” the brewery announced on social media. “You can once again sip on a tasty Tinhouse beer, in the comfort of our tasting room… We cannot thank you all enough for the support over the last two months, and we appreciate your support and patience, as we ease back in to this.”
- The Spring 2020 issue of The Growler is out now! You can find B.C.’s favourite craft beer and cider guide at your local brewery, cidery, select private liquor stores, and on newsstands across the province.