Amid COVID-19 restrictions, hundreds support ‘Virtual Brewgaloo’ in Raleigh

Wake County News

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Triangle-area breweries and bottle shops are taking a big hit during the coronavirus pandemic.

Gov. Roy Cooper’s executive order has closed beer gardens and tasting rooms. It’ll be at least another month before breweries reopen.

Brewgaloo,  the state’s largest craft beer festival, was scheduled for this weekend in Raleigh.

Typically, tens of thousands of people fill the streets for it to enjoy food, bands and local beer.

“It is the best festival in North Carolina,” said Cheryl Lane with Double Barley Brewing.

Organizers knew this year would be different due to COVID-19. They postponed the actual festival scheduled this weekend but decided to still hold a virtual one with 20 breweries.

“This is our way of saying, ‘You know what, we want local to be here, not just yesterday, but we want it to be here today, tomorrow and next year’,” said Jennifer Martin, executive director of Shop Local Raleigh.

Participants bought tickets for different packs of beer and drove to Lincoln Theatre. Volunteers then placed the beer in their trunk or backseats.

The festival did more than 600 orders and more than $30,000 in sales.

“So much better than expected. We really didn’t expect this kind of turnout, which is a blessing people are being so kind,” said Lane.

The organizer, Shop Local Raleigh, said it’s important to support the brewers. Many of them already made their product for the spring.

Lane said they’ve lost 80 percent of their income at Double Barley Brewing.

“It brings me so much hope for coming back. It’s so hard, especially when you’re in an industry where everything is about (a) personal touch and people hanging out,” said Lane.

Every brewery is going to be paid for the virtual event. The organizers aren’t profiting in order to support local businesses and encourage others to do the same.

“They are the character of our community, they are the heart beat and for us, this is a passion project,” said Martin.

The actual festival, which will be the ninth annual one, is tentatively moved to August 14 and 15. Last year, 50,000 people attended. 

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