August 13 - Wheelhouse Brewing
Craig Outhet from Wheelhouse Brewery spoke about the challenges of operating during a pandemic and the need to be nimble operators.It all began on March 17th, when they made the decision to cancel their St. Patricks' Day event. 
Days later an order was made shutting down pubs and tasting rooms, but since they were deemed an "essential service" they could carry on producing and selling.  Beer to go was always an option at Wheelhouse so they reduced hours and carried on.  They also began on-line sales with mail and local home delivery. 
Production was down by 50% and overall sales down about 35%
They did take advantage of some of the federal government programs.
A challenge for them was that they had to move from product in vats to bottle instead of keg combined with shipping and both of those are very labour intensive.  This spurred the decision to buy a canning line, something that had always been in the long range plan but Covid forced the decision to proceed.
Re-opening occurred in mid-May.  It took them 10 extra days to rejig their space from 2 long tables to 4-5 smaller ones, spread out.  Capacity was reduced to 25  After introduction of the patio the capacity capped at about 50.  
Sales of cans are through the roof and when they checked recently they found that sales were up 10% from July last year.
What worked well for them?
  • On- line, province wide sales
  • Canning Line
  • Opening the patio 
Check out their new small batch beer especially for the north coast "Bummer Summer"!