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Calgary craft brewers take steps to stop coronavirus spread – so patrons can still enjoy beer and staff stay safe

Some Calgary craft brewers are doing their part to stop the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) by suspending customer growler refills at city taprooms.

But that’s just one of the measures they’re taking they try to keep doors open for patrons during the pandemic.

Ben Leon, co-founder of Dandy Brewing Company said they made the decision to stop client growler refills because they can’t vouch for the cleanliness of them.

“We’re able to control a lot within the brewery especially as far as cleaning goes. Obviously, hand washing, disinfecting and stuff – but that’s bringing in an outside factor,” Leon said.

“We don’t have control on how people treat their growlers or where they’re keeping them or, or you know, how they’re cleaned. Just for the safety of our staff, other customers, we’re just not having that sort of variable in play.”

Other Calgary craft brewers have taken the same measure, including Annex Ales and Prairie Dog Brewing.

Laura Coles, co-founder and director of marketing and public relations for Prairie Dog, said they’ve been following the coronavirus closely since December to make sure they were prepared should it enter Canada.

Like other breweries, Prairie Dog is still selling house-filled growlers for clients, but couldn’t vouch for the cleanliness of those coming in.

“Some people drink directly out of their growlers; some people don’t clean them properly,” Coles said.

“Since we can’t control that this is just our way of mitigating any chance to transfer to our staff and in fact, to the household that the growler came from.”

Business continuity with coronavirus threat

Both Coles and Leon said their respective breweries have had ongoing “business continuity” meetings with staff, and additional measures have been taken. The safety of their staff and clientele are the priority right now.

More frequent sanitization of high touch spots like chair backs, door handles, debit machines and even menus. Deep cleaning of their entire locations happens frequently.

Beginning today, Coles said they will no longer be accepting dollar bills or coins at their location.

“We’re actually eliminating cash on the premises. We’re not going to be accepting or giving change, just because cash is dirty,” she said.

They’ve also changed to a bleach dilution for their cleaning, “which is a little more potent,” said Coles.

Leon said they’re constantly identifying high touch spots in their location and adding them to the high cleaning list. But, they’re also looking at how they can create better social distancing at their location.

“So, whether it’s switching to bar service as opposed to table service or just creating distance between people and the tasting room,” he said.

Leon said they’ll stay open as long as they can, but they do have contingency plans in place should the situation get worse.  He said they’ve already seen in-store beer tasting cancellations and other bigger events.

“We’re looking at some other ways to sort of streamline getting people their beers,” he said.

“We want people to come in and we want people to buy and enjoy the beer wherever it is they’re going to enjoy it.”