Fighting fear with beer: Virus spurs curbside beer sales

Sometimes you wanna go where everybody knows your name

Amid the growing coronavirus pandemic, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper issued an executive order Tuesday closing all restaurants and bars, except for takeout. But instead of grumbling, Tar Heels are growling. A number of other states around the country have put similar measures in place. But where one door shuts, another door may open, and breweries are finding that's a car door.

White Street Brewery in downtown Wake Forest is offering curbside service for people who bring in growler bottles to be filled with their signature tap beers. They also offer two-pint cans called “crowlers.”

Tap room manager Rene Betancourt says the gesture is the brewery's way of showing appreciation for customers while helping to stem the spread of COVID-19.

“Beer isn’t a necessity,” she says. “But … beer is a social thing. So, the fact that we’re having to distance ourselves from each other, and those opportunities are being taken away, I think that is affecting a lot of people."

To help customers make up for some of the fun they're missing from prohibited barroom gatherings — and to give a boost to flagging business — Austin Beerworks in Texas posted a photo of brightly colored cans and bottles stacked up at a new make-shift drive-thru.

“In accordance with new rules, our taproom is now only able to offer Beer-To-Go," the brewery said in a tweet. "We set up a drive through tent and are working on preordering online.”

Wolf Creek Brewery in Valencia, California, tweeted: “The brewery/tasting room may be closed for on premise fun; however, you can head on over to @wolfcreekscv for drive through 6-packs, merch, and some delicious food!”

Meanwhile, beer drinkers in Alabama rejoiced when the state's ABC Commission on Tuesday issued an emergency rule allowing curbside sales of unopened alcohol at restaurants and bars. ⁣The move came as the state shut down 78 state-run liquor stores throughout Alabama.

In Wake Forest, podiatrist Jim Judge usually comes to White Street a couple of times a week. So, he popped in to pick up three crowlers to take home.

“Beer is up there with whiskey — which I can’t get here,” he said, when asked where the suds ranked on his list of necessities. “Absolutely above toilet paper right now. Without a doubt.”

Fighting fear with beer.

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Associated Press reporter Jonathan Drew in Raleigh, North Carolina, contributed to this report.

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Follow Allen Breed at @AllenGBreed

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Follow AP coverage of the virus outbreak at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak.