On Friday June 19th Portland metro area breweries reopened to customers for the first time in over three months. While some couldn’t wait to have a draft beer at a bar again, others were hesitant and worried irresponsible reopenings would create a new surge in infections.
From what we saw at the handful of places we cautiously visited, customers were just beginning to dip their toes back into the way things were before. Taprooms were not packed and the atmosphere was quiet yet jubilant, people seemed to be enjoying each other’s company in small groups and wore masks when not seated.
Many breweries were utilizing newly available street space to expand outdoor seating options. Threshold Brewing rolled out the greenway in front of their intimate Montavilla neighborhood taproom. Gorges Beer Co. was able to close Ankeny Street between their brewery and Tap & Table and Crema across the street so the entire area was open air spaced seating.
A common new practice is ordering beer on your phones even while on premise. This eliminates an extra contact point from an exchanged dollar bill or credit card. A few places like Gorges Beer have put QR codes on the tables that are scanned by your phones camera and take you directly to their online purchasing storefront.
Most Portland area taprooms reopened, but not all of them. Gigantic Brewing remained closed for opening weekend, but opens today. Baerlic Brewing, Assembly Brewing, Modern Times PDX, Montavilla Brew Works are among the holdouts that have not announced a reopening so far.
So far Oregon breweries have shown remarkable resilience, the few closures so far are just The Ram and Uptown Market Lake Oswego. Only time will tell if we can prevent another outbreak while also easing into some return to business. And even if breweries can stay open safely, it remains to be seen if they can make enough money with the lack of seating, shorter hours and less people coming out.
Founder of The New School and most frequent contributor Ezra Johnson-Greenough has worked in the craft beer industry for almost 10 years, doing everything from illustrating beer labels to bartending at renowned beer bars and breweries like Belmont Station, Apex, Laurelwood and Upright Brewing. He has also had a hand in creating events like the Portland Fruit Beer Festival, Portland Beer Week, and the Brewing up Cocktails series. He is available for freelance consultation in marketing, events, graphic design and branding.