How beer taps are reflecting the reopening of America

Local beer lovers around St. Louis continue to navigate the new normal. In many ways, the local brewing community has been luckier than other industries, in that they were quick in transitioning their business models to adopt online ordering and curbside pick up. That’s not to say the men and women inside the industry aren’t hurting, they are, but frankly, it could have been worse.

And now, months later, we’re seeing more breweries expanding their footprints by opening slowly with new patio spaces, and in some cases a return to the taproom. So far, all breweries that I have seen are advocating customers to maintain social distancing and wear masks, to ensure that all have a chance to remain safe.

The beer barometer and the reopening of America

And the numbers are in. According to new data released by Axios, microbreweries are providing us with macro clues about the state of the U.S. economy — and how confident Americans actually feel about reopening amid the pandemic.

In Missouri, according to the Beer Barometer, just over half of the beer taps pouring at open locations are flowing with brew, 54% to be exact, during the weekend of June 19-21, compared to 42.3% from May 22-25 and 51.2% from the weekend June 5-7.  Illinois, which just entered Phase 4 of its reopening, is showing 42.9% of taps flowing.

What does this mean? The national trend shows that more watering holes are opening up, with 85% of locations open and pouring beer last weekend. And if the bars are open, it’s a good sign that those communities have opened up, too. But as we saw in Florida and Texas last week, the return to business, as usual, can be fleeting, as governors of both states reacted to recent jumps in COVID-19 numbers by moving quickly to close bars, specifically, because they were seeing widespread non-compliance by customers.

It is clear that as indicators go, the opening of bars and breweries is key.

The restaurant industry is among the hardest hit by COVID-19, but it is showing some signs that it could bounce back, though perhaps not to pre-COVID levels. Efforts locally, such as beer runs supporting the Gateway Resilience Fund, have gone far in trying to supports workers.

For now, it appears local breweries and their teams are doing things right. You can follow their progress and announcements on Twitter. Here is list I’ve created of every local brewery. Hopefully soon, the number of flowing taps will rise even more, as we move closer to normalcy and new world. Be safe.

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