Alnwick Brewery produced more than 5,000 pints of beer that it couldn't sell due to the UK's coronavirus lockdown.
London CNN  — 

A brewery in Northumberland, northeast England, has been giving away gallons of free beer to local residents after the coronavirus lockdown hit sales and left it with a surplus.

Alnwick Brewery, which supplies craft lager, ale and stout to local pubs and restaurants, produced more than 5,000 pints of beer ahead of Easter but was then unable to sell it after the UK government closed non-essential businesses in March.

Co-owner Ian Robinson told CNN he came up with the idea of giving it away after hearing of a brewer in Scotland doing the same – but decided to ask locals to give voluntary donations to the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) in return.

“We produced around 80 casks of beer for Easter, and almost immediately the government closed the pubs and restaurants so we were left with it,” he said. “The casks were virtually dead money.”

Robinson has been giving away beer on each Friday for the last three weeks, raising £940 ($1,180) so far.

At first, people were collecting the beer directly from the brewery, which is two miles out of town, but so that people can avoid driving it is now being given away from the brewery store in Alnwick town center.

“The queue was outside the town square this morning,” Robinson said. “The little cardboard box we have for collections is pretty much bulging, so hopefully there’ll be another two or three hundred pounds in that – and we’ve probably got enough for another two or three weeks [of giveaways].”

Robinson and his business partners have also delivered fudge, chocolates, biscuits and cakes that are usually sold in the shop to a local hospital ward that cares for patients with dementia.

Brewer and manager Phil Bell prepares for a busy day of giving away free beers to locals.

He said the local community had been generous in its donations to the NHS in return for the beer.

“They love what we’re doing and they’ve all been putting their hands in their pockets and making a contribution,” he added.

“It’s just a lovely feeling that we’re doing a little something for the community and they’re putting something back into it.”