Breweries within the Erie space are a part of the rising development in mail order merchandise
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, words like “resilient” and “agile” have been used to describe companies that have adapted to changing circumstances.
The terms also apply to the craft beer industry in Pennsylvania. Before the pandemic, only four breweries were shipped in Pennsylvania. That number has risen to 40.
“COVID-19 hit and there was so much uncertainty. People were reluctant to go out and even to go to stores. So what’s the next best option? Let’s get the beer right to my door. You’ve seen this explosion since as more and more breweries added the service, ”said Chadd Balbi, co-owner of Breweries in PA, an online media company covering the craft beer scene in Pennsylvania.
Together with co-owner Matt Kozar, Balbi has been reporting on Pennsylvania Craft Beer through his website www.breweriesinpa.com since 2016, which had more than 1 million page views in 2020 and has social media on both his Facebook page and in his group.
According to Balbi, Pennsylvania breweries have been able to ship beer since October 2017 when the Liquor Control Board changed the state code. The challenge was that breweries initially relied on courier services for transport.
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However, following the COVID-19 success, UPS took steps to enable Pennsylvania licensed breweries to deliver directly to consumers through their services. The company even created a special beer additive for their website.
“Essentially, UPS got into the beer shipping game, and that has resulted in the elimination of third-party couriers. It really opened everything, ”says Balbi.
In northwest Pennsylvania, both Voodoo Brewery and Lavery Brewing Co. have been shipping nationwide for several months. Erie Ale Works became the third regional brewery to add this service in March.
“It was an easy decision for us when we realized we could do it,” said Jeff McCullor, co-owner of Erie Ale Works. “It makes us more accessible to a customer base we normally can’t meet, and it’s a simple relief. The pandemic has forced us to really focus and optimize our ecommerce efforts and this is the most recent example of this. “
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Right now, nearly 10% of all Pennsylvania breweries offer nationwide shipping, and while that number may peak, McCullor doesn’t think the service will end anytime soon.
“It will rise to a point and then it will plateau. However, the work-from-home culture has changed things and I don’t think it’s going to go away, ”he says. “People are now used to services like DoorDash or Instacart that don’t have and don’t want to go anywhere. If you can continue to buy beer without leaving your home even if it costs more, people will keep doing it. “
Meet a need
Breweries outside of Pennsylvania have also started shipping to the state, including popular national brands like Other Half Brewing, The Veil Brewing Co., and Aslin Beer Co. While there are more volume restrictions, more direct beer options are being introduced for consumers.
For fans of popular Ohio breweries like Cleveland’s Masthead Brewing Co. or Cuyahoga Falls’ Missing Mountain Brewing Co., Rivalry Brews is available to deliver these brands to your doorstep. Instead of offering their own shipping services, many Ohio breweries have partnered with Rivalry Brews to ship on their behalf.
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Launched in May 2020, the third-party shipping service now ships to 41 states including Pennsylvania. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to Eriesponsible, a non-profit organization that works to clean up Lake Erie and other freshwater lakes.
“We do a lot of packing and shipping, so it’s beneficial for breweries to work with us,” says Adam Esker, co-owner of Rivalry Brews. “We are working on growing, expanding and adding more breweries. We’ll also add subscription boxes and beer tastings virtually. “
Shipping is not right for everyone
One possible argument against the rise of shipping could be that consumers now have too many options to make beer, but neither Balbi nor McCullor see it that way. In the past, craft beer was an industry where the rising tide lifts all ships. They believe that this will also be the case here.
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For smaller breweries, the thought of adding a shipping service may seem daunting. Because of their production, this might also be impossible.
Take Second Sin Brewing Co., a small but highly rated brewery in the Bristol suburb of Philadelphia. The brewery cannot deliver to Erie because the production facility is not big enough.
However, this does not mean that the brewery cannot strive for it.
“It’s definitely something we’d love to explore and we return to it every few months. Especially for our size, it just doesn’t make sense at the moment, “says Mike Beresky, co-owner of Second Sin Brewing Co.” But our goal is to add a few more tanks at some point and as soon as we get more fermentation space, that’s definitely something that we’re going to explore. I think this direct selling to the consumer is a trend that will continue. I also think this is an industry where competition is successful and I think that in the end it is all very good for us. “
Pennsylvania Breweries that ship nationwide
Aurochs Brewing Co., Emsworth
Beaver Brewing Co., Beaver Falls
Brew gentleman, Braddock
Broken cup brewing, Andalusia
Kershner Brothers Brewing Co., Skippack
Br Daddys Brewing Co., Allentown
Cinderlands Beer Co., Pittsburgh
Conshohocken Brewing Company, Conshohocken
Erie Ale Works, Erie
Fegley’s Brewery, Allentown
Free Will Brewing Co., Perkasie
Grist House Craft Brewery, Pittsburgh
Here & Now Brewing Co., Honesdale
Hidden River Brewing Co., Douglassville
Highway Manor Brewing Co., Camp Hill
Overprinted Beer Co., Hatfield
La Cabra Brewing, Berwyn
Lavery Brewing Co., Erie
Levante Brewing Co., West Chester
Locust Lane Craft Brewery, Malvern
Dear City Brewing Co., Philadelphia
Retriever Brewing Co. Lehigh Valley
Rotunda Brewing Co., Annville
Round Guys Brewing Co., Lansdale
Roy Pitz Brewing Co., Chambersburg
Shy Bear Brew, Lewistown
Stall 12 Brewing Co., Phoenixville
Sterling Pig Brewery, media
Stickman Brews, Royersford
Experimental ales with strange roots, Pittsburgh
Tattered Flag Brewery, Middletown
Ten7 Brewing Co., North Wales
The Larimer Beer Company, Chester
Tired Hands Brewing Co., Ardmore
Urban Village Brewing Co., Philadelphia
Vault Brewing Co., Yardley
Voodoo Brewery, Meadville
Wallenpaupack Brewing Co., Hawley
Workhorse Brewing Co., King of Prussia
Yellow Bridge Brew, Delmont
SOURCES: https://www.ups.com/assets/resources/media/en_US/beer_addendum.pdf http://www.pacodeandbulletin.gov/Display/pabull?file=/secure/pabulletin/data/vol47/47- 43 / 1772.html