AUSTIN (KXAN) — Texas craft breweries, shuttered by Gov. Greg Abbott’s public health orders, face an uncertain future with 2 in 3 believing they won’t survive to 2021, according to a recent survey.
A survey conducted by the Texas Craft Brewers Guild also found that 1 in 3 craft breweries believe they will permanently close in less than three months if restrictions aren’t lifted. TCBG said at least six craft breweries have permanently closed during the pandemic.
“The fact that our businesses are shut down, it’s literally killing our industry,” said Adam DeBower, owner of Austin Beerworks.
When DeBower started Austin Beerworks in 2011, there were fewer than 50 craft breweries in Texas. Now, there are more than 340, according to the Brewers Association.
On June 26, Abbott ordered businesses that receive more than 51% of revenue from alcohol to close as coronavirus cases surged among young people around the state. The order targeted bars, some of which state agents observed violating social distancing and capacity rules after being allowed to reopen, but also included breweries and wineries.
More than 18,000 people have signed an online petition calling on Abbott to allow breweries to reopen.
In 2019, Abbott visited Austin Beerworks to celebrate a new law that would allow beer-to-go sales by breweries. Now, DeBower said he hasn’t been able to get any help from the governor’s office.
“If things don’t change, it’s not likely that we’ll make it more than 6 months,” DeBower said.
Abbott’s office did not respond to a request for comment about the petition.
At least six breweries have permanently closed because of economic stress caused by the pandemic, according to the TCBG, which includes North by Northwest Brewing, Skull Mechanix, and Brewers Table in Austin.
“We look across the street and we see restaurants that event at 50% capacity have twice as many people as we do at 100% (capacity),” said Jon Lamb, co-owner of Redhorn Coffee House and Brewery in Cedar Park.
DeBower said preliminary guidance from the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission will allow Austin Beerworks to sell beer-to-go for consumption on its patio through an alteration of its license. A TABC spokesperson told KXAN that additional guidance is being finalized and should be released in the coming days.
Beer-to-go helps sales but isn’t enough to keep the small businesses afloat, according to Hops & Grain owner Josh Hare.
Hare said he invested $10,000 in safety measures to protect customers and staff, only to be shutdown again.
“We provided all the recommendations and if none of those are listened to our industry is going to be decimated,” he said.
Political reporter John Engel will have more on this story on KXAN News at 9 and 10 p.m.