COVID-19 / Food and drink / Small businesses / Social media

Wilmington breweries have been using social media to get through the pandemic

How three brewery leaders say they've adapted and stayed in touch with local beer lovers during heightened COVID-19 restrictions.

Wilmington's Stitch House. (Courtesy photo)

The strictest COVID-19 restrictions for pubs and breweries will soon be lifted, returning Wilmington’s Stitch House Brewery, Wilmington Brew Works and Bellefonte Brewery closer to “normal.” The fact that these businesses are still up and running after over a year of changing restrictions has a lot to do with ingenuity — and more than a little to do with tech.

“Social media marketing is nothing new for us, and like most small businesses, we rely heavily on its reach,” said Bellefonte Brewery President Brandon Walker.

His business was impacted not just by capacity restrictions, but Delaware’s restrictive distribution laws that meant sales of its brews, including First State Stout, Small Wonder IPA and Claymonster, were limited almost entirely to its own taproom.

“We have an awesome marketing director who has done a great job with getting our brand out there and making sure people know what we are up to,” Walker said. “We advertise almost exclusively through social media for everything from new beer releases to events like our recent food truck fest. With everyone plugged into their phones 24/7, apps like Facebook, Instagram and Untappd have been key to reaching customers throughout the pandemic.”

Delaware has allowed curbside pickup for taprooms, shifting the focus from bringing people in for a tasting experience to enticing people to order beer online directly through local breweries, rather than hitting the liquor store.

“As our on-site business was shut down at the beginning of the pandemic, it became vital for us to communicate with our customers that we could still offer locally produced beer and cider for them to enjoy at home,” said John Fusco, the creative and brand marketing VP for Wilmington Brew Works, which makes the popular Tangerine Dream and Rail Car One. “We made large pushes through our social media channels to show people how to place and order online and pick it up, and explain our curbside options, as well as the laws in place that prohibited us from local delivery.”

Stitch House updated its website for mobile optimization and online ordering of its “Crowlers TOGO,” including Stichenator C, Pineapple Jawn and Run for the Pils.

“Beer lovers can go on the Stitch House Facebook page and admire the long list of beers, while also reading reviews and keeping track of upcoming events,” said its social media director, Vanessa Delmerico.

Even as the breweries become less reliant on curbside pickup, their updated digital presence can continue to keep microbrew fans updated on new offerings and events.


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