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German brewery gives away free beer

Rebecca Staudenmaier
May 8, 2020

Faced with the prospect of dumping thousands of liters of beer that couldn't be delivered to restaurants and hotels due to coronavirus closures, a brewery in western Germany got creative — and is giving it away for free.

People lined up outside the Willingen Brauhaus for free beer
Image: Reuters/A. Weis

With COVID-19 restrictions closing hotels and bars, one German brewery decided to give away its beer rather than throwing it out.

The Willinger Brauhaus in the western state of Hesse gave away an estimated 2,600 liters (690 gallons) of light and dark beer by Thursday, Reuters news agency reported.

"We also want to thank people, and we hope they are as supportive once we reopen, that they come here, recommend us," brewery owner Franz Mast told Reuters.

The beer was intended for restaurants and hotels, but COVID-19 restrictions made the brewery's normal deliveries impossible. 

As several states in Germany look to slowly reopen restaurants and bars in the next few weeks, Mast said the brewery needs to empty its tanks and fill them with fresh beer.

With a shelf life of eight weeks, the clock was ticking on the brewery's stock of unfiltered beer, reported the local Waldeckische Landeszeitung newspaper.

Read moreCoronavirus: How Belgium's breweries are adapting to lockdown

Willingen Brauhaus beer bottles
The Willingen Brauhaus gave away an estimated 2,600 liters of beerImage: Reuters/A. Weis

A hit with local customers

The free beer giveaway was a success with local customers. Dozens of people lined up outside the brewery on Thursday — making sure to wear masks and socially distance as they waited to pick up their free bottles.

"I hope it helps the brewery, that is why we are here. This way, we can sit in the garden later today, in the sun, and have a nice Willinger beer," customer Natalie Julius told Reuters.

In a Facebook post, the brewery said it ran out of beer by the afternoon, but vowed to have more bottles ready for the next giveaway on Tuesday — albeit with a limit "of three bottles per person."

The coronavirus crisis has hit Germany's local breweries particularly hard. Soccer stadiums and bars have shut while major beer festivals — including Bavaria's Oktoberfest — have been called off.

Read moreCoronavirus: A dry spell in Germany's beer region

The Deutsche Brauer Bund beer association is warning that brewers face a potential collapse in sales, particularly due to a slump in exports to China and Italy.

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