Rockville brewery owner creates online platform to sell beer

Two months ago, the owners of True Respite Brewing in Rockville knew a change was about to happen.

In January, Brenden O’Leary, one of the owners, saw what was happening in Italy with regards to COVID-19. Days before the March shutdowns, O’Leary and his business partner developed Biermi. It’s an online registry of breweries, wineries, and distilleries that offer pickups and/or deliveries.

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“If I’m a customer drinking beer I can put my address in the website and it could tell me every business within a certain radius who’s doing curbside pickup, who’s doing delivery and I can order from that site,” says O’Leary.

Local breweries have been hit hard during the lockdown. According to the National Beer Wholesalers Association, the beer purchaser’s index, which is an indicator that measures expected beer demand, hit an all-time low for the month of April.

Recent data from Nielsen CGA, a market research firm, suggests a change in the market.

They say takeout orders have risen dramatically since the lockdowns and beer carryout has risen 14 percent.

O’Leary says Biermi has saved his brewery from going under but others aren’t so lucky. 

Ono Brewing Company in Chantilly, Va., initially used Biermi before switching to their own delivery service. Although it helps, brewery owners say it isn’t sustainable.

“I can’t put a timeline of an 'X' number of days we will be forced to shut down but I can tell you it’s in the near future for many businesses,” says Cyndi Hoffman of Ono Brewing.

Biermi is still adding new vendors to its database.

O’Leary says they have hundreds of vendors in 30 states. So far, the online platform has seen more than $2.3 million in sales with an average order of $63.