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Ormond Beach Observer Tuesday, May 12, 2020 1 week ago

Beer To-Go: Ormond Brewing hones in on packaged beer sales during COVID-19

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Prior to the pandemic, Ormond Brewing offered four different choices for canned beer. As of next week, that number will increase to 12.
by: Jarleene Almenas Associate Editor

Before COVID-19, Ormond Brewing Company owner Justin Robinson used to worry about having to shut down his business for a couple of weeks due to a hurricane. 

"Then we have a pandemic that shuts us down for about eight weeks now," Robinson said. "We didn’t really anticipate that, but we take everything in stride.”

Under the governor's executive order, breweries like Ormond Brewing were deemed essential and were allowed to continue operations. However, because he closed bars, Ormond Brewing had to shutter its taproom, which Robinson said bolstered the brewery's sales and distribution, along with the beer sales from its restaurant partners.

But with restaurants having closed their dining rooms for weeks, and only recently allowed to partially reopen earlier this month, Ormond Brewing had to focus on to-go sales to keep going. 

Leo Deloge III works on Ormond Brewing's new handrails for its biergarten. The brewer has taken time during the shutdown to perform improvements. Photo by Jarleene Almenas

And kept going the local brewery has, though it is operating at 20%-25% of its normal capacity, Robinson said. But, Robinson said they are happy because no one they know, or any of their regular customers or employees have contracted COVID-19.

“I think it was worth the sacrifice that we had to make," Robinson said.

Selling their product

The pivot to prioritizing to-go sales has garnered community support. Ormond Brewing cans and bottles its own beers, and for the Cinco de Mayo celebration, it released its annual Donkey Jote tequila barrel aged double IPA. The bottles for the Indian Pale Ale sold out that night. 

“It just kind of shows that our local customers support us," Robinson said.

Having recently finished a 10,000-square-foot expansion, a "saving grace" for the local brewer comes in the form of food trucks. Back in 2018, Robinson applied for a special exception to host food trucks and live music at his business. The City Commission approved the request, and that has allowed Ormond Brewing the ability to give people an opportunity to purchase food from local vendors alongside his beer. 

Ormond Brewing has pivoted its business model to focus on packaged beer in the time of COVID-19. Photo by Jarleene Almenas

What he has found, Robinson said, is that while he is selling less beer overall, packaged beer sales are up. To continue that trend, Ormond Brewing is ramping up the types of beer it cans. Before the pandemic, Ormond Brewing canned four types.

As of next week, that will increase to 12.

So far, Ormond Brewing also hasn't had an issue with expired product. Robinson said they typically don't produce batches for more than 60 days out, as their beers have a shelf-life of 120 days. While they have rolled back on production, they will soon start making new batches of beer. 

“Being that just part of our business model is the freshness of our beer, it really doesn’t affect us that much," Robinson said.

'Community is everything'

The pandemic hasn't stopped Ormond Brewing from furthering its community-driven efforts. In the past, they have supported nonprofits like Provision Packs and veteran-based organizations. 

Most recently, Ormond Brewing has partnered with local food truck Southern State of Mind to help provide meals for people through the Giving Beck Fund, a veteran's organization named after 7th Judicial Circuit Judge David Beck, who spearheaded the creation of a local veteran's court. Together, the two businesses provided 25-40 on average, Robinson said. 

Helping the community is fundamental to their business model, he added. 

“I think community is everything in this industry," Robinson said. "We’re community-based. The reason that we’re successful is because our community supports us, so we want to give back to the community as much as possible.”

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