In january, the brewing industry looked to the future with optimism. Since the middle of march, things have been different, because social life has been almost paralyzed by corona, folk and club festivals have been canceled, and guesthouses and beer gardens have had to close down. This meant a considerable loss of sales.
Of course, the breweries are not affected by the crisis in the same way, some of them still have a traditional farm or beer garden in addition to their brewery. Everywhere, however, keg beer sales almost came to a complete standstill – because there were no more festivals and the gastro tap remained dry.
So it’s good to have a second leg to fill with bottled beer, to be able to deliver to markets, or to be able to look forward to loyal regular customers.
How have the breweries in the habberge district fared?? We have changed.
Private brewery wagner
The "wagner private brewery" is measured by output from eltmann-eschenbach, with 90,000 hectoliters, the largest brewery in the district, around 80 percent of sales are through the various types of bottled beer. "For us, the slump is moderate at around 20 percent, it concerns almost exclusively the keg beer. Almost nothing happened here for six weeks. But we sell our beers in bottles all over germany, also in the new federal states. There we had the fortunate situation that sales started up again much earlier", describes brewmaster karl wagner the situation. That’s why we’re not so affected by the crisis, because festivals and events don’t play such a big role. "We have not had to put any employees on short-time work or lay them off. We have only reduced overtime or vacation days."
The situation is completely different at the "hartleb brewery" in maroldsweisach, which has been run by the same family for 200 years and in the sixth generation. Hartleb does not fill the beer in bottles, but in party kegs, in siphons or in containers that they have brought with them. So the main turnover is in the own restaurant, which is known for its beer and sausages. This was closed for weeks – and has only been open again since yesterday (thursday).
Gunther hartleb puts the slump in beer brewing at 50 percent, and the drop in total sales as high as 70 percent. "The mood was bad", admits the brewery owner. However, the sale of auber haus at the weekend was used to try to make up for the shortfall.
There is a clear reason why he had to keep his restaurant and beer garden closed for so long. "The state imposes too high requirements. They require a lot more employees, which is no longer economical. In addition, our regulators are no longer friendly to the hospitality industry. You don’t dare to do anything because of the fear of punishment. This situation is catastrophic for our eleven employees, some of whom had to take vacation or be put on short-time work."
Since yesterday, the restaurant and beer garden are open again, also because his employees requested it. They want and need to make money again.
Also in the brewery raab in hofheim, the sales of draft beer has completely collapsed. "We have to make sure that we make ends meet. It is a difficult situation with enormous losses in the catering industry, in the clubs and the lack of "club parties", says owner michael raab, who can’t imagine that they will be able to celebrate any bigger festivities this year.
In the brewery, this had a corresponding impact on the personnel situation with nine employees and one trainee, some of whom had to work short hours. Emergency aid has been applied for and received "but this is no more than a drop in the bucket".
Looking to the future, raab assumes that things will change and that it is not known how things will continue and when things will return to a normal state. "Nevertheless, one must not bury one’s head in the sand because of it. We made up for a lot with our home service, and home sales were also good. The customers let us know that they want to support us and their regional brewery."
With about 1000 hectoliters is the "brewery scharpf" heilgersdorf is a small family business that was particularly hard hit by the closure of the brew pub and the weeks of staring into the empty guest room. Brewer werner scharpf admits: "at the beginning, we were very pessimistic about the future. But then things turned out better than expected. We want to be satisfied despite the precarious situation. We’ll get the year over and done with." While the restaurant has been hit hard and the main turnover has dropped, they have been offering home sales every day. "This time, however, we had to fill everything in small containers and liter bottles, which was not easy, contrary to our other habits of 80 to 90 percent barrel use. This can only be done if the whole family helps out."
Customers and guests had honored this, scharpf gives them a rough praise. "People have been coming continuously, almost no regular guest has been absent. They fetched a lot of beer in bottles and crates and said, "if we’re not allowed in the pub, we’ll just drink our beer at home." The hospitality in the guesthouse had started with the relaxation very restrained "because the guests preferred to stay outside because of the risk of infection or also had their problems with the mask obligation. Some even said we want to argue them with the masks." Here it has become better with the opening of the beer garden or now with the extension to meetings up to ten people.
That the "eagle brewery" the reason why stettfeld has come through the crisis so well is that 95 percent of it is bottled beer. "The beers and crates go on sale. Much is made of our home service, in which we are on the road with three cars in the counties of habberge and bamberg. The house sale also went well. Our customers got their beer directly from the brewery and drank it in their own backyard", master brewer norbert merklein draws a positive conclusion. The situation was somewhat different in the guesthouse and in the garden. "When we were allowed to reopen, we were only able to offer a few seats for the food indoors."
It was similar in the biergarten, where the masks made it a little bit more difficult. "It is a pity now in the summer months when the weather is fine that some of the bigger festivals with our adler beer are cancelled. It would be nice if the ban on coarse events was dropped in the near future", hopes merklein. Note: inquiries to the goller brewery in zeil went unanswered.