Bart Watson, the chief economist for the not-for-profit trade association, had some alarming news to share in a release last week, under the headline: “Brewery Sales Dropping Sharply, Many Set to Close.”
As Watson put it, “For many small brewers, the current situation is not sustainable … many brewers indicate that their business has a matter of weeks, and a majority say that they can only last a few months based on current trends.”
I asked a couple of people in the Atlanta brewery business to weigh in on Watson’s forecast.
In June 2019, Halfway Crooks Beer opened in Atlanta’s historic Summerhill neighborhood, in the Carter development on Georgia Avenue.
Co-founders Shawn Bainbridge and Joran Van Ginderachter took the name from a Mobb Deep lyric. And the duo’s small own premise brewery promised to shake things up a bit with a concept that aimed to prove there were (quoting Mobb Deep, again) “numerous ways you can choose to earn funds.”
“We are lucky that we got a canning line, and the neighborhood has been really great in supporting us enough that we can get by,” Bainbridge said. “We had to lay off most of our staff. That’s mostly for safety. We need to keep our social circles really small and do our part not to spread this thing.
“So it’s just me and Joran and two other people. We’re doing food to go, with wings, cheeseburgers and fries, and we’re doing canned beer to go and growlers. We basically just turned everything into a canning operation. Right now, we have three lagers available in cans, which is pretty awesome.”
As to the future, Bainbridge said he and Van Ginderachter are planning for the worst and hoping for the best.
“We’re able to be sustainable based on our current income, and the support of our neighborhood,” Bainbridge said. “So as long as it keeps going the way it is, I think we’re going to be OK. But who knows what’s going to happen? We just know that right now it’s working, and we’re doing the best that we can, as safe as we can.”
By Bob Townsend, For the AJC