GREENVILLE, S.C. (WIS) - Terry Horne said compared to this time last year, sales are down 70% at his brewery.
Horne is the owner of Liability Brewing Company in Greenville. He said like other breweries in South Carolina, for the last few weeks they have been solely relying on to-go sales because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Horne said almost all breweries rely on in-person taproom sales.
“Most of the breweries in the state are built around the taproom model,” he explained. “If that doesn’t work these businesses can’t function.”
According to Horne, they have shifted their focus to putting their beer in cans instead of just making it for taps.
Before the pandemic and shutdown, the brewery industry was growing at a fast pace in South Carolina. According to the South Carolina Brewers Guild, the industry supports about 5,000 jobs. They said the industry has a $800 million impact on the state.
“We’ve slowed down,” Horne said. “We’ve only brewed two batches of beer since this all started. Which normally we would brew one to two batches a week.”
The state Brewers Guild said because of the shutdown and current alcohol laws in South Carolina, brewers are limited on how they can get their products out the door. Breweries can sell a limited amount of beer to a customer per day.
Brook Bristow is the Executive Director of the South Carolina Brewers Guild. He said they have been asking lawmakers to make some temporary exceptions to allow breweries to do home deliveries and loosen other restrictions so breweries can generate more revenue.
Horne said any extra revenue right now could be a big help.
Bristow said if these current conditions continue, about 80% of breweries in South Carolina will be closed within three months.
Many breweries are already seeing negative impacts from the shutdown. Horne said they will be dumping out about 17 kegs of beer that is no longer fresh by the end of the week.
“The shutdown has prevented us to sell those beers that would sell within 60 to 70 days,” he said.
Horne said if sales don't pick back up, he'll have to dump out about 270 kegs of beer over the course of 90 days. He said they would essentially be losing up to $70,000 worth of beer.
Horne said about half of the breweries in South Carolina have opened within the last three years. He said most businesses don't break even until after year three.
“Even if we planned for a rainy day, there is not enough money to get through that rainy day because we are still paying this stuff off,” Horne said.
According to Bristow, there are about 92 breweries and brewpubs right now in South Carolina.