Carolina Beer Guy: Breweries turn to home delivery during pandemic

CHANGING GEARS: Michael Palmer, manager of Wicked Weed Brewing's Brewpub location, loads a company vehicle for a delivery. Photo by Julia Lindholm Photography

If you can’t get to the beer, the beer will now come to you.

The COVID-19 pandemic has led a growing number of Asheville-area breweries to begin home delivery of their ales, lagers and sours — a service that recalls the days when dairies delivered milk to doorsteps and farmers brought fresh eggs directly to customers.

Home delivery is generating much needed revenue at breweries that have experienced severe financial strain due to the temporary closing of their taprooms and the loss of draft accounts throughout the region. Breweries are protecting delivery personnel with gloves and masks, and limiting contact with the public. But if you order beer, have that driver’s license handy to prove your age.

Wicked Weed Brewing is delivering bottles and cans within a 10-mile radius of its original Biltmore Avenue brewpub, according to spokesman Kyle Pedersen.

“This is something that we did not offer before [the pandemic],” he says. ­”It took us a little time to get acclimated to the nuances of home delivery.”

Consumers can order through the brewery’s website and select from a wide array of products. From there, it’s a simple process to fill in delivery and payment information. “As long as we receive your order by 4 p.m., we guarantee same-day delivery,” Pedersen says.

The delivery drivers are all Wicked Weed employees who had previously worked in food service jobs within the company. “This has allowed us to maintain our workforce,” Pedersen says.

UpCountry Brewing Co. is delivering both beer and food from its new in-house restaurant, Grata Pizzeria. “We are trying to support the West Asheville neighborhood,” says brewery owner John Cochran. Orders can be placed both by phone or online.

“If pizza and beer won’t brighten your day, what will?” Cochran posits before turning to the future. “When this [pandemic] all goes away, UpCountry will be stronger for it because we’ll have the delivery business on top of the dining business.”

Catawba Brewing Co. is offering delivery and pickup from its locations in Asheville, Morganton and Charlotte. “It’s the only thing that is really keeping jobs in the tasting room,'” says company co-owner Billy Pyatt. Deliveries can be made by calling, texting or ordering online. “It’s amazing how well this has gone,” he says.

Burial Beer Co. is delivering its products within an 8-mile radius of its brewery, says co-owner Jessica Reiser. Online delivery is offered via the company’s website, and deliveries are made by front-of-house employees. Every Wednesday, new beers are added to Burial’s order form.

Less than four months after opening, DSSOLVR is delivering its beers 7-10 miles from its Lexington Avenue location. Brewery co-founder Mike Semenec has been bringing beer himself to customer’s homes. Orders can be placed via the brewery’s website, and Semenec is wearing gloves and a mask while toting bottles and cans to patrons’ doorsteps.

“It’s been a mixed bag for sure,” he says, regarding the risks of customer interactions. “But if we don’t do this, it’s the difference between keeping the business going or closing. It’s been nice seeing people and the support we’re getting from the community has been great.”

At press time, other Asheville breweries offering beer delivery included Archetype Brewing (through its Haywood Road neighbor OWL Bakery), Bhramari Brewing Co., Green Man Brewery, Hi-Wire Brewing, One World Brewing, Twin Leaf Brewery and Asheville Brewing Co. (through the Takeout Central service).


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About Tony Kiss
Tony Kiss covers brewing news for the Xpress. He has been reporting on the Carolina beer scene since 1994. He's also covered distilling and cider making and spent 30 years reporting on area entertainment. Follow me @BeerguyTK

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