Yet another victim of COVID-19, a popular Minnesota craft beer publication has ended its run…the latest beer magazine to call it quits, but the first to directly credit the coronavirus for its demise.
On July 23, The Growler’s founder/owner/publisher Matt Kenevan announced that the August 2020 issue would be its last, ending 12 years of covering Minnesota’s craft beer scene.
Unlike other beer magazines, like All About Beer which ended its 39 years covering the field in 2018, and Beer Advocate which ceased its print operation in 2019 before selling the majority of its web presence to Next Glass in 2019, The Growler was a free publication heavily dependent on local advertising to survive.
And with Minnesota businesses on hold thanks to COVID-19, that advertising dollar came to a standstill…
This from Matt Kenevan’s announcement…
The Growler Magazine was founded at a momentous point in Minnesota craft beer’s history. While there were a handful of craft breweries in the state that had outlasted the shakeout of the mid-1990s, when the laws changed in 2011 to allow production breweries to sell beer on-site in taprooms, the scene absolutely exploded. I had come from the print media industry with 13 years working for The Onion News Publication, and I couldn’t believe no one was covering this exciting beer scene.
Back in 2012, my plan was to build community through craft beer and the craft culture that comes along with it. My plan was to call attention to local breweries and support their efforts to explore all of the colors and flavors that beer could represent. My plan was to bring people these stories in a way that was visually appealing and thoughtful, rather than critical or condescending. Over the last 80 print issues, we achieved this with The Growler—with the help of many—and I feel that we have served our purpose and fulfilled our goal. Therefore, the August 2020 issue of The Growler Magazine will be the last print issue.
Over the years we’ve faced so many hurdles that we were lucky to overcome. The truth of the matter is this was never supposed to last as long as it has. I started the business with a handful of coins and some pocket lint. I didn’t borrow money to get off the ground. I was repeatedly reminded that “Print is Dead” and digital media was the only way forward. But we did what many people thought was impossible and created something that lifted the Minnesota beer scene to where it is today. We did it through the hard work and passion of a talented, exceptional group of employees.
Six months ago the future was bright and 2020 was looking to be a pretty good year. We officially assembled a fantastic group of people, who are a pleasure to be around and work well together. We have an award-winning editorial team that consistently provided great content. We have an all-star sales team that I’d put up against any other. Our office space is collaborative and one of very good vibes, which guests enjoy visiting. We never used dirty headlines for clickbait to engage our readers and did everything with hard work and the utmost integrity.
Unfortunately, a pandemic was a direct hit to the food and beverage industry, which we heavily rely on for advertising in order to pay to produce our free publication. Moreover, going without a year’s worth of festivals to support the magazine compromises the publication’s sustainability into future years. Expenses are ongoing, but our income is not. I love what we’ve built here, and we’ll wrap things up with our heads held high for having done excellent work.
Today begins a healing process for me that will take some time. I can’t stop thinking of the people who counted on me to somehow pull yet another miracle out during this storm. I’m thinking of the 15 full-time staff and their families. I’m reflecting on those who contributed to the 80 issues in so many different ways. I remember those who attended the launch party. The past employees. The volunteers, the readers, the festival-goers, and the people who share the stories we’ve written. The people who just donated money when we started a “Save the Growler” campaign. The advertisers, the artists, the writers, the photographers, the designers, the new friends and the old. The partnerships that we formed. The vendors that we supported. Today is a lonely day.
For those of you who are wondering about the future of The Beer Dabbler. When large events come back en vogue, The Beer Dabbler will resume. In recent months we have been working on our Dabbler in a Box program, a special beer variety pack with beer from 12 regional breweries along with an exclusive video series with music, entertainment, art displays, and comedy that can be purchased through Surdyk’s liquor store.
Thank you for making The Growler a part of your lives. It’s truly been an honor to have brought you this magazine over these past eight years. Hopefully, it connected with you, your business, or someone you know in one way or another. Hopefully, you learned something new or was happily reminded of something old. Hopefully, one day The Growler will rise up once again. The future is unclear but today we are doing what needs to be done. Drink local and often my friends!
Matt Kenevan Owner, Founder, & Publisher The Growler Magazine
The hits just keep coming…