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‘We’re not a bar’: Breweries question red tier reopening rules

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NAPA COUNTY, Calif. (KRON) – There’s space to host outdoor tastings safely at Mad Fritz Brewing in Napa, but chairs remain empty.

The small company doesn’t sell food, so they’re being forced to utilize their curbside and delivery options only.

“We can still do this outside and be safe and adhere to the guidelines. So certainly this tiering doesn’t seem fair,” founder of Mad Fritz Brewing Nile Zacherle said.  

The company has been around for eight years, but this last year has forced them to make a bit of a pivot.

“We transitioned our production to more bottled product and worked our mailing list. And memberships, and folks we knew locally to support us and keep us going,” Nile said.

On Wednesday, Napa County moved into the state’s red reopening tier, which allows wineries to host outdoor tastings without a food requirement.

But breweries like Mad Fritz have to wait until the orange tier to be given the same opportunity.

“Maybe they’re seeing it as because we’re a brewery and people come to drink, we’re more like a bar.” But honestly, the way Mad Fritz operates, we’re not a bar. We’re a tasting experience, like a winery,” Nile said.

And Nile is not the only one frustrated.

The California Craft Brewers Association have even filed a lawsuit against the state, claiming discrimination in the reopening guidelines.

A statement released Wednesday reads in part:

“Craft beer manufacturers have suffered and will continue to suffer irreparable harm if this meal requirement is not lifted.” “California businesses are fighting to survive, and this requirement has contributed to beer manufacturers going out of business across the state and delayed others from being able to open their doors.”

For now, Mad Fritz is fulfilling online orders, offering curbside pickup and delivery.

Waiting for the day they can open up their taps once again.

“I think they really need to be a bit more fair about this. I’m not sure if they’re picking a favorite or what not, but we all need to be in business,” Nile added.

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