Just before noon on St. Patrick’s Day — normally a day when people are drinking copious amounts of Guinness and green beer — the city of Austin announced that restaurant dining rooms and bars would have to close until May 1 in an effort to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
Already, many of these businesses had taken it upon themselves to close and switch over to curbside service, to-go sales and delivery (services permitted under the window set by the city).
That includes breweries, which must also close their taprooms but are able to sell beer to go. Before the announcement, many had already begun switching to a strictly to-go model; others are implementing those plans now.
The Brewtorium Brewery & Kitchen, off Airport Boulevard, was among the first to pivot. Over the weekend, the brewpub began offering curbside crowler and food pick-up, in addition to regular beer hall service marked by extra cleaning precautions; customers just had to call ahead of time. Right away, co-owner Whitney Roberts said she noticed an increase in to-go sales.
"We're doing OK," she said Monday. "We saw a pretty serious downturn in sales ... when they made the announcement about the first 2 (confirmed Austin coronavirus) cases. Saturday afternoon was actually pretty decent, then yesterday was pretty terrible. We did have a good number of to-go sales, a lot more than usual."
Depending upon how well curbside-to-go does, sales-wise, the Brewtorium plans to start offering specials like "A German-Style Pizza, Salad & Crowler" for one price to provide people an all-in-one meal.
Here’s what’s in the works from other local breweries.
4th Tap Brewing Co-op will be open daily 4 to 7 p.m. for curbside to-go service. Order and pay over the phone (512-904-9817, ext. 2) and expect 15 minutes for 4th Tap to fulfill the sale, which can include a crowler of any beer on the tap wall or four- and six-packs of certain beers.
Austin Beerworks is now selling a mix of cans, bottles and crowlers — everything from the classic Pearl-Snap Pilsner to taproom-only options like a blonde stout — from a newly established drive-thru area in the front parking lot of the brewery. The North Austin spot is also working on a way for people to pre-order online.
"What we're working on and trying to get together is doing small-batch, taproom-only releases just to give people a reason to come up and purchase something," Austin Beerworks co-founder Michael Graham said. "Maybe a 50-case run of beer that is all in tallboys, doing those every week or two. (Those sales) will go directly to payroll, so our employees can get paid and keep their health insurance."
Black Star Co-op is offering its full menu of food and crowlers of any beer on tap from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily to take to go. Call ahead for curbside pick-up.
The Brewer’s Table has a special food menu for to go orders — and lots of beer, of course. You can get 15% off crowlers to take home when you make a food purchase. Order by email (email@example.com) or by phone (512-520-8199) and then pick it up at the East Austin brewpub.
Central District Brewing will bring its crowlers and 16 oz. cans to your car. All to go orders must be made online, with an arranged pick-up time. Call the downtown brewery at 512-993-4511 during that pick-up time and give details about your car. Park in front of the brewpub. Red River Street is blocked by construction at East Fourth Street but is accessible by turning off East Fifth Street.
Circle Brewing has set up a tent in front of its North Austin taproom where customers can pick up six-packs or an entire case. You can reserve ahead of time by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Pick-up will be available 3 to 6 p.m. Monday-Friday and 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Note that payment is via credit card only.
Hops & Grain will sell crowlers for $10, or 3 crowlers for $25, from noon to 7 p.m. daily. Call 512-914-2467 or email email@example.com to place your order. The website will constantly update the current beer list.
Hopsquad Brewing, one of Austin’s newest, will have a crowler-to-go service. Stop by from 3 to 8 p.m. Wednesday-Friday and noon to 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday after calling or texting 903-420-0895. Hopsquad is also running a promo with onsite food truck Tsuke Honten: two crowlers of your choice with garlic chicken wings for $25.
Independence Brewing will bring your beer order straight to your car when you arrive at the Southeast Austin brewery, anytime between the hours of 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday. Just call ahead (512-707-0099) or order online first.
Jester King Brewery has moved to a to-go-only model, closing its tasting room, restaurant, farm and private events space to the public, and will be open 12 to 8 p.m. daily starting Thursday. Jester King is outside city limits and doesn’t have to close, but owner Jeff Stuffings thought it was the right move to make.
"This was a painful decision for us to make given its economic impact on our company and employees, as we depend upon onsite sales for the vast majority of our income and livelihoods," he said in a blog post Monday announcing the closure. "We know we are not alone here. But we understand we must (do) our part if this virus is to be slowed down and our healthcare system kept from collapsing."
Lazarus Brewing will have all the beer, coffee and tacos you could want to pick-up curbside. Stop by the east side brewery between 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday-Friday and 10 a.m to 10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday to snag that order. Online ordering is coming soon.
Live Oak Brewing’s beer-to-go drive-thru is now operational, with core beers and seasonals $12 and limited and taproom-only suds $10. You can pre-order by calling 512-385-2299.
Pinthouse Pizza has closed all three locations of its thriving brewpub, but to-go and delivery options are available through Favor and DoorDash, for both food and beer, from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. Cans and crowlers can be ordered through those platforms. Curbside pickup is also possible.
Vista Brewing, like Jester King, is also outside Travis County but has implemented to go hours 3 to 7 p.m. daily. Indoor areas are shut down, but Vista’s 21-acre property and walking trails will remain open so that people can enjoy nature during wildflower season. They can order from a menu, available online, that includes packaged beer and merch, though food is not available for takeout this week.
Zilker Brewing has already released a new beer to liven up your huddle at home — Excuse to Let Loose, a hazy double IPA. Pick up a 16 oz. four-pack of this or other Zilker beers from noon to 8 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday. You can pre-order online or just stop by. Onsite food truck Spicy Boys will also be up and running to supply fried chicken sandwiches and tater tots.