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Florida craft brewers navigate new regulations during COVID-19 pandemic

“Play by the rules is what we’re trying to do, but when the rules keep changing, that’s a hard target to hit,” Preben Olson of Aardwolf Brewing Company said.
Credit: WTLV
Florida breweries trying to navigate new regulations during coronavirus pandemic.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Craft beer on the brink?

That is how some Florida breweries are feeling about their business and having to adjust to new state regulations during the coronavirus pandemic.

If not for selling food, they are depending on carry-out customers. That is far from an ideal situation for Preben Olsen at Aardwolf Brewing Company.

“Us starting up our brewery operations just to shut it down in three weeks ate into our operating costs,” Olson said. 

A second COVID-19 related shutdown included breweries. The caveat, sell food and reopen or follow a to-go model and take a major financial hit. Aardwolf is looking for a food partner, but Olsen said the licensing is complex.

Bottom line he said — it’s putting breweries and thousands of jobs across the state in jeopardy.

"We’re in a very bad situation that I think a lot of people simply can’t afford to abide by some of these new regulations and asks that the state is giving us,” Olson said. 

Aardwolf and other craft brewers have penned letters to state leaders explaining the to-go model is not sustainable. Olsen said by this point in the month he had hoped to hear about a plan to reopen again from the City or State, but so far, nothing.

“Play by the rules is what we’re trying to do, but when the rules keep changing, that’s a hard target to hit,” Olson said. 

He added he is also concerned for new breweries getting started and dealing with the pandemic — he's hoping all can hang-on.