Updated Setting aside the serious consequences of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic – loss of life, economic hardship, rising authoritarianism, and blissfully clear roads – there is a lesser but still troubling development.
On Friday, the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) let it be known that as many as 70 million pints of British beer will have to be destroyed due to the outbreak.
Normally, British wallop is subjected to an oral disposal process, and gets broken down into its constituent parts and redistributed, albeit in different forms. Though it's a taxing job, Britons have shown they're up for the challenge.
But given the gap between the UK government ordered shutdown on March 19 and July 4, the earliest projected date Brit pubs may be allowed to reopen, the BBPA says much of the nation's stored beer will spoil.
"It’s a great shame that so much great British beer that should have been enjoyed in community pubs up and down the country has gone to waste," said Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the BBPA, in a statement. "People won’t have a chance to drink it as it will go off before pubs can re-open."
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McClarkin urged the government to provide more support for brewers and pubs in the form of business grants, more lenient loan eligibility, and deferment of beer duty.
The BBPA said brewers have tried to make use of unsalable beer by offering it as feed for animals and for anaerobic digesters to create organic fertilizer.
And that's a shame because the COVID-19 bio-nasty has only increased interest in alcohol consumption among those who partake.
We're told by Blind – developers of an anonymous discussion app for tech industry workers, and a provider of unverifiable data from "3.5M+ verified professionals" – that 32.6 per cent of people drink alcohol while working from home.
Those figures are higher, allegedly, at certain companies: among workers at e-cig maker Juul, 47 per cent of Blind survey respondents drink alcohol while working from home. Among Lyft corporate workers (not drivers, though they probably aren't driving much at this point), 50 per cent imbibe.
That's based on 2,000 responses gathered between May 13 and May 15. But it's not particularly surprising given that work-related activities at home can occur at any hour. Answering an email after an evening's pint or glass of wine isn't all that odd.
If only there were a way to match this demand for alcohol with the oversupply of beer. Oh, right, it's called a pub.
Beer, it should be said, is not the only food or beverage at risk of wanton destruction. In Canada, the US, the UK, and elsewhere, dairy farmers have had to dump milk that cannot be sold before it goes bad.
In an already fragile dairy industry, we are taking another hit as COVID-19 disrupts the food chain— Nikki Boxler (@NikkiBoxler) April 5, 2020
This week we got the call to start dumping milk because processing plants are full & there is no place for it to go due to the closure of restaurants, schools, and food services pic.twitter.com/bt4lm1VYwt
France's answer has been to relax safety rules governing the sale of raw milk. Keep your fingers crossed.
We at The Register pledge to do our part by clearing out existing beer supplies to make room for inventory that might otherwise get tossed. Someone has to step up. ®
Updated to add
In case you were in any doubt, it's not just UK breweries affected by the coronavirus lockdown: it's hitting everywhere from France to Australia, whole other places, such as Mexico, are suffering booze droughts.
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