Taprooms opening as New Brunswick’s COVID-19 recovery plan continues

Some New Brunswick craft breweries are opening their taprooms as part of the province’s second stage of its COVID-19 recovery plan.

While the novel coronavirus has taken its toll on businesses and created new challenges, Flying Boats Brewing in Dieppe, N.B., has soared into a new way of business, says owner Marc Melanson.

“Overall, (COVID-19 has) been a negative, but it’s not worrisome,” he says. “The issue has been very much changing the whole business model.

“We’re operating totally different than we did three months ago in terms of what do we need to brew, how do we serve it, how do we get to our customers in the various markets we serve.”

Melanson says retail sales have actually gone up “noticeably”, due to more online delivery and curbside pickup orders.

But they’ve lost a lot of revenue, he says, because restaurants and hotels aren’t buying the product at typical demand.

Their taproom officially opened Thursday. While restaurants were included in Phase 2 of the province’s recovery plan, bars weren’t noted.

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But Melanson says they’ve been taking guidance from New Brunswick Craft Alcohol Producers Association.

“We’re in the middle because we produce all our own product here and we serve our product,” Melanson says. “(NB Craft Alcohol Producers Association) said we were allowed to open as we were operating under the restaurant guidelines.”

Flying Boats beer is sold to restaurants like Euston Park in Moncton, an important buyer from that market, Melanson says.

Euston Park Social’s opening day plans weren’t impacted by COVID-19. They planned for this May long weekend and opened Friday.

“People loved it, people were happy to be outside, to be with their bubble family having a bite to eat and a drink,” says co-owner Susan Cormier. “Just feel a little bit of normalcy, which was pretty nice.”

For both taproom and restaurant, modifications have been made to keep up with physical distancing protocols from when you walk in to where you sit down.

Both have taken precautions to comply with regulations.

Albeit stressful, aside from an insignificant impact on business, Melanson says the only question mark is what lies ahead.

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