South Austin brewery Skull Mechanix Brewing is closed forever on 1005 East St. Elmo Road, Building 2. The shutter is because of the “economic crises created by the COVID-19 pandemic,” as confirmed by its Instagram account.
“We did not plan for a deadly virus to come to town,” as shared by its announcement post on Instagram, “and shutter everything that we were designed for. We knew right away that our concept would be the heaviest hit.” The brewery, which was known for its strong lager and ale lineups, as well as hosting live music shows and private events, had planned for a busy 2020 until the pandemic hit.
In late March, the taproom closed because of city and state mandates. The brewery took its time launching its beer to-go program, because “that’s a lot of pressure and a new responsibility that we were not prepared for,” as noted by its Instagram page.
Beer to-go sales began in early May, because the brewery wanted to make sure it was done right and “didn’t want to make any mistakes that could possibly hurt someone.” It acknowledged that it perhaps “took a little too long.” After an executive order allowing for the reopening of bars and taprooms was issued in late May, Skull reopened its taproom for guests who wanted to drink on the premises.
However, Skull decided to close its taproom again on its own in mid-June in response to the novel coronavirus surge across Texas, but still offered to-go beers. However, those sales weren’t enough. “In the end, to-go beer was never going to save us,” shared the Instagram post, “and things were (are) progressively getting worse.” The brewery paused its to-go beer sales right before the Fourth of July and it started selling its equipment and furniture in July, as confirmed by owner Jeff Willis.
Willis opened Skull opened in March 2018 with head brewer Michael Waters.
A survey shared by the Texas Craft Brewers Guild last week revealed that many Texas breweries are most likely going to have to close before the end of the year, if the taproom shutter isn’t lifted and there isn’t more support from the government.
Update, July 28, 10:32: This article, originally published on July 27, has been updated to include corrected details on when Skull Mechanix stopped selling beer to-go and started selling its equipment.