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Bavarian brewery becomes economic victim of coronavirus

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By Mark Armstrong
Bavarian brewery becomes economic victim of coronavirus
Copyright  Michael Probst/AP

Despite government aid to businesses, the coronavirus outbreak is wreaking economic havoc across Europe.

In the Bavaria region of Germany, 400 years of tradition will come to an end when the Werneck Brewery closes its doors in September.

The company has become just one more victim of the pandemic.

Fifteen workers will lose their jobs.

"My family and I will miss it so much," explained the Werneck Brewery manager Christine Lang. "The brewery has always been present, it was part of every dinner table conversation all our lives. We will be missing part of our identity, and in a way, the whole region will too".

The family business has survived several wars and economic crises.

Over the past few years, it's also had to fight a fierce price war. The good times seemed to be returning.

But then came the pandemic, and with it the total breakdown of the festival business and restaurants taking pride in their craft beers.

Werneck is far from being the only victim.

"Many breweries sell 80 to 90 percent of their beer through restaurants, which have been closed for weeks and we have no time perspective", said Holger Eichele, Secretary-General of The German Brewers Association. "We don't know when the restaurants can reopen, when the beer gardens can reopen. I am afraid that, in the worst case, it could be July or August. And we won't survive until then."

The 15.000 euro emergency aid from the federal state is only a drop in the ocean for many breweries.

The beer festivals in summer and autumn have become crucial to their turnover.

Without them, they die, as do a significant number of jobs and an important aspect of German beer culture.