Virtual beer festival aims to help NH brewers amid COVID-19 crisis

LITTLETON, NH -- A virtual beer festival is being planned to help raise money for hospitality workers who have lost their jobs because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Like many industries - breweries are facing a grim reality, reported WMUR.

Schilling Beer Company in Littleton, New Hampshire still has more than a dozen staff bottling and distributing its product, but not many of its peers can't say the same.

"Within our association there are approximately 65 breweries and roughly half of those people have been laid off - at least the staff within those breweries," Schilling Beer Co. CEO Jeff Cozzens said.

The NH Brewers Association estimates 2,500 people have been laid off in an industry generating $450 million annually in the state.

"The innate ability of beer has always been to bring people together," said CJ Haines, executive director of the New Hampshire Brewers Association.

Haines is helping lead an effort to reunite beer lovers through a virtual beer festival.

"The difference between our festival and many other festivals is that you get the experience of actually talking and engaging with the people who are brewing the beer as well as with who owns the brewery," Haines said.

Instead of traveling tent to tent, festival goers will go post to post online; and if you don't have your favorite brew on tap, breweries say they are offering curb side pickup and delivery.

"Right now there's definitely a vibe throughout our industry that the owners and breweries miss the patronage of their regulars and the regulars are missing going to the tasting rooms and enjoying a pint," said Haines.