‘We need your help’: Florida breweries sound alarm amid coronavirus shutdown, say industry is in jeopardy


TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Those in the craft beer brewing industry in Florida sent a letter to Gov. Ron DeSantis and the secretary of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation this week to voice their concerns over their businesses being forced to close.

“We need your help,” the letter begins.

It explains how many small breweries are in jeopardy of closing forever. The state required businesses with more than 50% sales in alcohol to close as coronavirus cases surged. Some do not think they will have the opportunity to rebound.

“The entire Florida craft brewing industry is now in jeopardy,” the letter says.

At Coppertail Brewing Company in Ybor City, they know a thing or two about keeping things clean.

“We hold ourselves to a very different standard than any bar or restaurant in the country here,” said Ken Foutch, chief operating officer. “If you look around, sanitation is our life, keeping in a clean environment.”

Right Around the Corner Arcade, Brewery and Bar in St. Petersburg. Photo: John McMahan.

Same goes for Right Around the Corner Arcade, Brewery and Bar in St. Peterburg.

“A brewery focuses itself primarily on cleaning,” said co-owner John McMahan. “And the importance of cleaning when it comes to the brewing process is an understatement.”

That’s why those two businesses, and more than 300 others in Florida, want to re-open.

“What we’re really asking for is communication, being able to open responsibly, being able to open with a set of guidelines so our industry can survive,” said McMahan.

Industry leaders say their businesses are not like traditional bars. Instead, they say, they cater to a different crowd that comes out to enjoy and try new beer.

“Our biggest concern is just staying in business. This has really been the most challenging time in probably the history of beer since post-prohibition,” said Foutch. “No other industry has been struck like ours.”

Industry letter. Credit: 3 Daughters Brewing Twitter.

As for the letter, the COO of Coppertail hopes someone in Tallahassee reads it and replies with thought, care and concern.

“You know, I really hope he’s hearing our voice,” Foutch said about Gov. DeSantis. “I know we’ve been talking and I don’t think we’ve been heard.”

8 On Your Side emailed the governor’s office, but has not heard back. A person who answered the phone at the DBPR said a reply was unlikely.

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