We continue with our series of updates on how breweries continue to adjust to life under the pandemic with a virtual trip to Corrales to check on Ex Novo Brewing. No other brewery seems to be churning out as many varieties of beer, which has helped keep the masses willing to take the slow drive on Corrales Road. The ability to keep the seasonals coming is due in no small part to how the brewery itself is set up, as owner Joel Gregory told us in an email.
NMDSBC: What pandemic era innovations have worked out for your brewery?
Gregory: Doing to-go sales with one employee has worked, as long as we can keep up with can demand. Labor cost is very low, which helps during this time!
NMDSBC: Have sales remained constant or are they fluctuating week-by-week, day-by-day?
Gregory: The first week of April was down circa 50 percent from the “new normal,” but overall it has been fairly steady.
NMDSBC: For packaging breweries, how much of a hit have you taken with liquor stores being shut down?
Gregory: This slowed down all of our core brands and seasonals quite a bit. Premier (Distributing) has done a great job finding alternatives for Mass Ascension and Perle Haggard, but we did feel the hit there.
NMDSBC: What are some ideas you have coming up? Please include any special beer releases you would already like to start letting people know about.
Gregory: We finally pulled the trigger on a crowler machine, which arrived today. Getting our sleeved cans will take a few more weeks, but we did get 240 or so that we’ll sell through, which is great for our draft brands. We’ve got a bunch of releases planned for the next couple weeks! The Week of April 27 will have Elbow Bump Hazy IPA, Brexit Through the Gift Shop English IPA, and Bock Holliday Maibock hitting our cooler.
NMDSBC: If the stay-at-home order is extended to mid or late May, or even beyond, is there a point where the current to-go-only model is not going to be feasible for your brewery?
Gregory: We’re set up OK for this, having a (5-barrel) pilot and larger (20-barrel) brewhouse allows us to can a lot of different styles of beer, which is the key to paying our bills right now. As others have said, it really takes the soul out of the business doing this for so long, without having our friends and neighbors filling up the taproom, and I worry about the morale of our furloughed employees.
We thank Joel for his response, and thank Dave Chichura and his brewing team for continuing to produce all of those wonderful seasonals. We will be making the trek to Corrales to get those new ones, Bock Holliday in particular, when they become available next week, and a Zoom review may just have to follow (and yes, we will invite Dave, Joel, and anyone else at Ex Novo to join us).
This series will continue with another entry today (Thursday) and two more on Friday. Until then …
Keep supporting local!