Test Kitchen: Week Two of COVID-19

Test Kitchen is an ongoing print column and online blog by the Publisher of Brewer Magazine and Test Kitchen Brewer Tyler Montgomery. With a 1.5 barrel brewhouse launched in 2019, this is his experience and notes from the journey along with reviews of products and services.


At this point, we are inside week two of the COVID-19 restrictions. In Kentucky, just about every business has been shut down. However, the breweries are still kicking because we’re considered an “essential business.”

Throughout our state restaurants and breweries alike are struggling even though they’re allowed curbside pick up for food and alcoholic beverages, as well as home deliveries — this pertains to all restaurants and not just breweries.

While we continued production last week, we can continue production this week but have simply pulled back. It’s nerve-wracking, to say the least, wondering whether some of the beers we’re producing right now will ever be tasted by our consumer.

In all business ventures, I find myself to be very fiscally responsible. I think like an owner that must be your No. 1 concern. No one could have foreseen the Coronavirus coming to our doorsteps, but it’s just that basic fear of cashflow that I think assists successful businesses.

I’ve been spending a lot of time contemplating what this scenario will mean to our industry over the next 10-20 years. Depending on how long this carries on we may, unfortunately, discover which businesses have strong safety nets and which ones are dangling by a string. My hope is that this pandemic doesn’t carry on that long and we don’t see anyone close — but it’s a legitimate fear.

I also believe there is a silver lining option, one that I lose a little faith in each day. Our US economy was at such a strong mark before the pandemic that I believe it has the potential for an equal rebound. Additionally, I believe if we can develop a solution quicker than most think, we could see an equal rebound plus significant growth for our industry. However, this is an even better case scenario than what is being popularized by our government. By keeping communities on lockdown we’re creating a hungry population that hopefully will be inclined to enjoy the local establishments even more strongly moving forward.

Lastly, I believe there is a middle ground. Not one where we see doors closing for good all across America and not one where we all ride this silver lining of successful breweries and local eateries into the sunset. I do believe there is a scenario where this carries on even a little longer than we would all like. We could eventually be forced to shut our doors for a short time but will have the opportunity to reopen, hopefully, this summer and experience strong growth at that point.

You must reach out to your bank if you haven’t already. If you don’t have a strong relationship with your lenders, this is time for that to be established. Not just because you’ll need them on your side, but also because you need them to think of you if and when this becomes worse.

Our bank is currently differing loan payments for three months. In those conversations, I’ve heard estimates of a recession that could last anywhere from six months to two years due to the pandemic. These are all projections from people that understand markets better than myself, but they are still just estimations.

At this point, it’s impossible to state exactly what the outcome could be. I keep praying that we’ll wake up tomorrow from this bad dream, the sick will be healed and we’ll all be back to enjoying this wonderful industry. At the minimum, I know it will create a new appreciation for the world we live in and ensure that we take time out for our friends and families.

I hope everyone is staying strong out there. Keep brewing if you can and get as much beer out the door as possible. I know your customers really need it during this time.


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