As the COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on countless lives and businesses across the world, the craft beer sector has been far from immune. An April 15th piece in Forbes highlighted scary survey results from the Brewers Association, which indicated as many as 60% of U.S.-based craft breweries could close as a result of the pandemic and subsequent social distancing protocols.
This stark reality has hit home today as legendary Munster, Indiana brewery, Three Floyds, has announced that it will close its brewpub indefinitely. "The Region" bright spot, which recently was named the 31st-largest brewery in the nation according to Brewers Association, was left with no other choice according to founder Nick Floyd:
“I can’t put people in danger; no one should die over a beer," Floyd said by text message. "I would die for beer and probably will, but I’m not going to make people endanger themselves.”
Floyd is hopeful that the brewpub will be able to reopen in a year or two when it is safe to do so, according to communication via the Chicago Tribune.
This news comes a mere few days after the brewery was scheduled to hold its annual Dark Lord Day, a celebration to its Russian Imperial Stout that is sold for only one day per year. This release has turned into an annual celebration for the Munster brewery that has transformed the day into a closed festival for the Northwest Indiana town featuring musical acts and other activities.
As someone born and raised in Munster, I can tell you this is a very significant event for those of us in the community. Thousands of people descend upon our town from all over the world to share in the success of a local brewery that has turned into an international sensation and served as a point of pride to those of us who remember it before becoming an international presence.
I remember being first exposed to Three Floyds in the early part of this century before craft beer really became the sensation that it is today. Seeing the growth of this brand became a point of pride for the town and surrounding community. Throughout my professional career as I've worked with colleagues from all over the country, when I told them where I was from one of the first questions I would be asked was almost always, "Isn't that where Three Floyds is?" It truly amazed me to see how expansive the reach of a brewery from a small town in the shadow of a great midwest city had become.
In my early 20s, the brewery and pub was our little secret in a lot of ways. I can't tell you how many times I would take colleagues that were familiar with the brand to the brewpub for lunch meetings. I always reveled in seeing their initial expression once inside the facility. The overpowering heavy metal sound engulfed the dining area and created a shock-and-awe moment for first-timers. As someone that is a metal enthusiast, I felt very much at home in the environment despite the skepticism of my first-time guests.
After enjoying a meal and a few brews, almost everyone I took to the establishment became believers in the experience. As someone who tries to visit local craft brewers when traveling across the country, I can honestly say you can put the food selection at Three Floyds up against any in the country. For that reason, this news will hit those of us in "The Region" pretty hard. We are losing a staple and a shining light for our community.
While the brewery is not shuttering its operations entirely, not being able to enjoy the full Three Floyds experience again for an indefinite time period stings. COVID-19 has now altered the lives of many in my community that worked at the brewpub and taken away an experience that, while no longer unique to those of us who resided in "The Region," was in many ways one-of-a-kind to those of us that witnessed its growth and evolution.