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Norman amid coronavirus: Local breweries respond to pandemic, offer pickup service

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405 Brewing Co. covid-19

A screenshot of 405 Brewing Co.'s website on April 21. 405 Brewing Co. and other local breweries have shifted to online ordering and scheduled pickup due to the spread of COVID-19. 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many Norman breweries are closing their taprooms and shifting to pickup service.

Local breweries are making this shift despite Gov. Kevin Stitt's designation of alcohol services as essential businesses during the shutdown. These local breweries have stopped serving beer lovers in-house and invited their regulars to order beer online and schedule a time for pickup.

Norman’s 405 Brewing is still open for production and drive-thru beer pickup.

Jonathan Stapleton, 405 Brewing’s co-owner, said they have been making “special” or cellared beer that usually wouldn’t be available for sale.

On April 5, instead of the brewery’s annual 4/05 Day celebration at the taproom, their staff hosted a digital toast livestreamed on Instagram. 

Even though Stapleton reported considerable reduction in sales, the brewery held a fundraiser during its annual 4/05 Day to help “provide assistance to servers, bartenders, kitchen staff and anyone in the service industry that may not be able (to) work and receive an income due to the stay at home orders,” according to the fundraiser’s website.

Lazy Circles Brewing, another Norman brewery known for being active in the community, is also offering to-go services and curbside pickup only. Growlers and tins can be purchased at its taproom, Thursday through Friday, 4–8 p.m., but only two people are allowed inside at a time.

“I totally thought we were going to be closed down as nonessential,” said Stephen Swanson, Lazy Circles Brewing co-owner. 

However, he agrees that selling alcohol is essential business, he said.

 “If you are going to be stuck at home, why wouldn’t it be essential?” he said.

Lazy Circles’ sales have reduced by at least 75 percent, Swanson said.

Although Black Mesa Brewing’s to-go and taproom sales may have increased, its overall sales have decreased. Sales have decreased because the bars and restaurants they usually distribute to are currently closed, said Matt Jewell, Black Mesa Brewing manager.

Black Mesa Brewing continues to distribute its beer to retail shops. The brewery is open for pick up 4–8 p.m. Monday through Friday and noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

“It's a loss across the board,” Jewell said. “We’re in limbo with everybody else. We don’t know when we’re going to be able to open back up.”

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