A stainless-steel tanker winds down a gravel road, its 18 wheels coming to rest in front of a bright, red barn. A stubbled Vermonter in coveralls emerges from the structure and fits the rear of the truck with a thick hose. What flows out isn’t fuel or feed, as you might suspect, but thousands of gallons of warm beer. The scene has become something of a morning ritual over the past month atWhistlePig, where the farmhouse distillery is receiving roughly 6,500 gallons of stale suds per day.
In the $29.3 billion craft beer industry, the near-overnight collapse of on-premise consumption has wreaked havoc on the supply chain, equating to hundreds of thousands of kegs log-jammed in distribution warehouses and going stale in brewhouses across the country. It’s the liquid equivalent of the $8.5 billion flower trade: all this beer with nowhere to go, except down the drain.
In New England, at least, brewers now have an option, thanks to Jeff Kozak, WhistlePig’s chief executive officer . “We are tentatively calling the project the ‘Great Beer Rescue,’” he says of the plan to distill the swill into high-end whiskey. “And we’ve already had significant interest from brewers and distributors.”
Notable neighbors, including Harpoon, Lawson’s, Long Trail, and Hill Farmstead, have already shipped Kozak product, free of cost. To them, it’s actually a bargain, saving them the per-gallon waste fees they’d incur from simply dumping it. Equally vital is the valuable space it affords their facilities, where kegs can be supplanted by the cans and bottles necessary for a full pivot to off-premise salesand subscription boxes, much as what’s happening withstruggling restaurants andwineries.
27,631 in U.S.Most new cases today
-17% Change in MSCI World Index of global stocks since Wuhan lockdown, Jan. 23
-1.081 Change in U.S. treasury bond yield since Wuhan lockdown, Jan. 23
-0.5% Global GDP Tracker (annualized), March