Some Pa. breweries tap into new revenue stream: Statewide shipping

Paul Kurtz
May 31, 2020 - 6:59 pm

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Their taprooms may be idle, but area breweries have found other ways to keep their businesses afloat during the coronavirus lockdown. 

The closures and restrictions have led to several innovations in the craft beer business, including curbside pickup, door-to-door delivery, and the latest service: statewide shipping. 

According to Breweries in Pennsylvania, the industry resource outlet, at least 11 companies have started shipping their beer across Pennsylvania since the pandemic hit, including seven in the Delaware Valley.

“It’s definitely had a positive initial response,” said Andrew Radcliffe of Perkasie-based Free Will Brewing. They started their shipping operation about three weeks ago.

“First week was way more than we could have ever anticipated,” he said. “We sent a lot of packages out to Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, Lancaster — places where we don’t normally send our products and where we see customers coming from.”

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He said the idea of shipping is something the staff had kicked around for a long time.

“We just never got around to seeing it through, but obviously our hand was forced with what’s going on,” he added.

Brews usually ship in two to three business days. For the brewers, it’s a small but much-needed stream of revenue. 

Jim Cain, owner of Vault Brewing Company in Yardley, said they, too, never had time to put the shipping idea into action until now.

“All of our revenue streams are drying up, we’ve gotta find new ways of bringing in revenue,” he said. “A lot from Philadelphia and the surrounding boroughs, but most of our orders, I would say, are in a radius of 50 miles from here.”

The shipping venture has also forced his team of brewers to create new products.

“We’ve been able to brew about 11 new beers over the past 10 weeks, which has been really exciting. And the new beers, when they hit the market, usually generate a lot of orders,” Cain said. “If we got a full week without launching a new week, we know it because the shipping orders go way down.”

Once the pandemic subsides, Radcliffe believes shipping will be here to stay.

“We’re already talking about how we’re gonna incorporate this into whatever normal becomes after we get out of this and everything opens up,” he said. “Shipping is going to be relevant for a long, long time.”

Other Delaware Valley breweries that offer statewide shipping include Conshohocken, Tired Hands, The Larimer, Levante, and Love City brewing companies.