How breweries are stepping up to help furloughed federal workers


Beer cannot solve every problem. You cannot use beer to pay your mortgage. It will not pay for your child’s college tuition. It cannot keep the lights on or the furnace burning. Beer offers no remedy for the stalemate between Congress and the President. That said, beer just might be able to brighten an otherwise sorrowful day for a furloughed federal employee.

As I reported recently, the government shutdown is causing plenty of headaches for breweries. It has prevented some new breweries from opening, interfered with some breweries’ funding mechanisms, prevented some beers from being released for sale, and so on. One thing it hasn’t interrupted is a brewery’s ability to pay taxes. Of course. See my previous story on this issue.

Although they’re enduring their own tribulations, many breweries sympathize with the plight of furloughed government workers and offer at least a bit of comfort. Here are some examples of ways that breweries, and others, are stepping up to offer some relief to those directly impacted by the government shutdown. I have no doubt that there are many others doing their part. I wish there were more local examples to share with you. Maybe I’m unaware. (Use the comments below, or contact me.)

Locally, in Seattle, Schooner Brewing Company posted this statement on Twitter today:

Furloughed employees can furlough their food tab at Schooner until the government reopens! Show us your government ID and get one meal a day (alcohol not included) & pay it back after the government reopens & you get paid!

No doubt, there are legal considerations to think about, but they’re doing what they can.

Also on Twitter today, Rogue Ales and Spirits had this to say:

Effective immediately: now through the end of the government shutdown, we’re inviting members of the Coast Guard to our 3 Rogue Public Houses on the Oregon coast for a 25% discount on beer & a 50% discount on food.

The U.S. Coast Guard, our neighbors in both Newport & Astoria, work hard to protect our coasts every day. But right now, they’re doing so without a paycheck. So we’re doing our part to say thank you.

Sweetwater Brewing of Atlanta used Twitter to share its offer as well:

If you’re a furloughed federal employee, we think you deserve a beer or two. Show your govt ID to our bar staff and your first two are on us.

You can also add Boulevard Brewing of Kansas City to the list.

For those bearing the brunt of the federal gov’t shutdown, we offer a little bit of solace. Through the duration of the shutdown, show your valid US gov’t-issued employee ID for furloughed pricing on beer & discounted food – because you might need to get out & enjoy a beer.

Because of the shutdown, City Barrel Brewing Company (also located in Kansas City) was left with a bunch of beer that it could not package for sale (they did not get the packaging approved by the TTB before the shutdown). Instead of letting the Hazy IPA go to waste or pass it’s prime, this brand new brewery opted to give the beer away. The brewery took advantage of a legal loophole and gave the beer away for free at a “private, ticketed event.” Only furloughed federal workers were invited to the event. Get it?

Zip Line Brewing, located in Lincoln, Nebraska, has a special deal for furloughed employees. What the brewery is calling The Growler Relief Act of 2019 promises currently idled federal employees a free growler fill every Friday until the government gets back to work.

In the Washington, D.C. area someone set up a website called Pay it Furloughed that allows you to buy a beer for a furloughed federal worker. They’ve partnered with a number of local bars and thus far over 1,300 beers have been purchased on behalf of federal workers. There is a mechanism in place by which the workers can prove their status and redeem their beers.

No doubt, to a federal worker currently struggling to pay medical bills or put groceries on the table, a free growler of beer or a couple bucks off a pint of beer is little more than a token gesture. Still, I hope it makes them feel a little bit better knowing that members of the public and the brewing community sympathize with their plight.

Use the comments below to share information about any other breweries that are offering furloughed federal workers discounts or other special deals.