Colorado Craft Breweries, Festivals Facing Coronavirus Concerns: Updated

Colorado Craft Breweries, Festivals Facing Coronavirus Concerns: UpdatedEXPAND
Danielle Lirette
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The the update on this post below; here's the original story from March 11:

All Corona beer jokes aside, it feels like Colorado's craft-beer scene is teetering at the edge of a coronavirus fallout that could potentially have lasting economic effects.

Although no events or festivals have been canceled yet, there are some big decisions looming on the horizon (possibly even today), including whether Collaboration Fest will take place as scheduled on April 4. A no-go scenario would be difficult for the organization, a nonprofit that relies on events like this to support both its budget and its mission of providing legislative and regulatory advocacy for breweries.

"The CBG has been closely monitoring COVID-19 news and is committed to ensuring the health of festival attendees and all who are involved with Collaboration Fest as best we can," the organization says. "At this point we do not plan to cancel Collaboration Fest, and we are working with the Fillmore Auditorium team, our community partners, city officials, brewers, and other stakeholders to make sure the event is safe for all. We'll also be sharing best practices guidelines for sanitary serving at beer fests with our membership as well as following CDC guidelines for large events."

In addition, the Boulder-based Brewers Association will have to make a decision soon on whether to move forward with its annual Craft Brewers Conference, which is set for April 19 through April 22 in San Antonio, Texas. As of March 11, the BA was still planning to hold the event — though it is feeling pressure to cancel or postpone. "Senior management is in discussions with local and national health authorities and other reliable resources," according to the BA, "and is assessing the status of continuing the events." The event was in Denver last year, drawing 13,000 people.

Meanwhile, local breweries are making their own decisions about whether to continue business as usual, or as close as they can come these days. So far, Copper Kettle Brewing is one of the few that has addressed the health issue directly, posting a Facebook message outlining some new policies, including increased employee hand washing, increased glassware sanitation, the removal of glassware that can be accessed by the public for pouring water; a no-handshake policy; and frequent wiping down of all surfaces that are touched regularly by staff and customers.

Beyond St. Patrick's Day festivities, there are dozens of events scheduled for later in March and April that will have to be reassessed.

And no — Social Distancing is NOT a good name for a beer. Nor are Elbow Shake, Community Spread, Presumptive Case or Self-Quarantine. At least not yet. But welcome to 2020.

Update as of 4 p.m. Friday March 13:

The Colorado Brewers Guild has canceled Collaboration Fest (see statement below), which had been slated for April 4, and numerous other events have followed suit (either canceling or postponing), primarily because  Governor Jared Polis just announced that all gatherings of more than 250 people are to be canceled. They include: the Mile High Beer Festival, Wynkoop Brewing's Day of Dorks, WeldWerks Brewing's weekend-long anniversary party, and Left Hand Brewing's Leftapalooza.

Earlier on March 13, both New Belgium Brewing in Fort Collins and Avery Brewing in Boulder, two of the largest craft breweries in the state, said they would close their taprooms into April.

New Belgium sent out this statement:

At New Belgium Brewing, our top priority is the health and safety of our visitors, co-workers and community. Given the amount of visitors we see daily and out of an abundance of caution, we’ve made the decision to close our Tasting Rooms in both Fort Collins, CO and Asheville, NC starting today through Wednesday, April 1st. Additionally, we have decided to cancel all events, private/paid tours, and cellar club events during this same time frame. We know and appreciate that many of you care deeply about our co-workers in the tasting rooms. We want to assure you that our teams will still be paid during this time. None of our co-workers have been diagnosed with COVID-19 at this time. We apologize for the inconvenience and appreciate your understanding.

And Avery Brewing also put out a message to beer drinkers:

Our first priority is the health and safety of our visitors, co-workers, and community. We have been carefully monitoring the recent developments with coronavirus (COVID-19) in Colorado. Out of an abundance of caution, we have agreed as a team that we will temporarily close our Tap Room and Restaurant beginning today, Friday, March 13 at 4:00pm. We plan to reopen on April 5. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause in your travel plans. We appreciate your understanding and willingness to work with us through this difficult time. We’ll pay our Tap Room and Restaurant employees during this closure, and beer production will continue as usual while we’re closed to the public. We will continue to take the utmost care in all our cleaning and sanitization procedures. We’ll keep you posted on updates as we have them. Thank you for being a part of our wonderful community, and we hope to see you for a beer once this has passed.

Here is the statement from the Colorado Brewers Guild on Collaboration Fest:

After careful deliberation and discussions with community partners, city officials, and stakeholders, the Colorado Brewers Guild (CBG) has announced today that the 7th Annual Collaboration Fest on April 4, 2020 at the Fillmore Auditorium will be suspended indefinitely due to the ongoing situation surrounding Coronavirus (COVID-19).

“We’ve been monitoring developments on the spread of COVID-19 and discussing the rapidly developing situation, and today Live Nation—the Fillmore Auditorium’s parent company—recommended that all large-scale events in March be postponed,” says Dave Bergen, Chairman of the Colorado Brewers Guild’s Board of Directors. “Collaboration Fest is one of our nonprofit trade association’s most important fundraisers, and the spirit of the event centers around the strong sense of community that the craft brewing industry brings to the world. However, the CBG cannot in good conscience put the wellbeing of CBG members, beer enthusiasts, and event partners in jeopardy by continuing with the planned date.”

Given the unknowns about the future spread of the COVID-19, there currently is not a rescheduled date for the festival; additional details will be announced at a later time. Those who purchased tickets to the event will be able to receive refunds, and instructions will be posted at collabfest.beer once confirmed.

“We still hope to celebrate Colorado Pint Day on Wednesday, April 8th, with the possibility of incorporating the 100+ beers brewed for Collaboration Fest, and we’re working on other ways to showcase the amazing range of unique collaboration beers that nearly 200 breweries put their hearts into for the event,” says Bergen. “Stay tuned for more information.”

The CBG encourages craft beer enthusiasts to take proper precautions while continuing to support their local breweries in simple ways such as visiting taprooms; purchasing carryout beer from breweries and liquor and grocery stores; and by planning to attend larger beer fests once the pandemic has subsided.

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