Local breweries get extra crafty during coronavirus dine-in ban

Posted at 9:42 AM, Apr 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-20 11:29:01-04

CINCINNATI — Kathie Hickey counts her blessings that Ohio alcohol laws allow small craft breweries such as hers to self-deliver.

"If we didn't have that I'm not sure that we would be able to stay open," said Hickey, co-founder of Streetside Brewery in Columbia Tusculum.

Streetside Brewery is one of many local craft beer makers delivering fresh brews to customers' doors during the coronavirus pandemic.

"Basically, what we do is we go up, we knock on the door, ring the doorbell and we put it down," Hickey said.

Streetside began its online ordering and home delivery service two weeks ago after Ohio's ban on sit-down service took effect in order to slow the spread of COVID-19. The brewery regularly delivers beer to doorsteps within a six-mile radius of its location at 4003 Eastern Ave.

A few miles away, in Silverton, HighGrain Brewing Company launched a similar beer service last Saturday, delivering its brews within a five-mile radius of 6860 Plainfield Rd.

"It was more of a decision between my business partners and myself of do we want to go down this road," said Matthew Utter, HighGrain co-founder and brewer. "When this is all over can we come back from this? Do we want to continue canning? What's our business plan look like?"

Ohio's sit-down ban took effect just short of HighGrain's eight-month business anniversary.

Utter said the hardest part of adapting to the sit-down ban was shutting HighGrain's doors. It was shortly after March 15 that he and his co-founders came up with a plan to keep the brewery sustainable, Utter added.

"We ordered more product or more material to put our product into," he said.

Those products included 32-ounce crowler cans to fill with HighGrain beer on tap and 12-ounce cans to ramp up production of four-packs of beer, something the brewery had not planned to do so soon.

Utter said all he and his business partners could do was cross their fingers and move forward.

"We had no idea what the reaction was going to be," he said.

During the first week of online ordering and delivery, that reaction has been overwhelmingly positive, he added.

And while HighGrain and Streetside are glad to deliver, both Hickey and Utter said nothing beats enjoying a cold beer with good friends.

"I'm really really looking forward to when we get to open up again; just welcome everybody back in to have a beer at the bar," Hickey said.