Across the United States and some parts of Canada, stores, businesses and bars have come up with COVID-19 vaccine promotions, like getting a (liquor) shot for a (vaccine) shot, or getting a discount or contest entry if you’ve gotten those sweet, sweet antibodies. But here in Halifax, the culture around vaccines has been a little more reserved and a lot more willing. Beyond the obvious benefits of being vaccinated against the deadly plague, the only incentive we’ve gotten is government officials—with a side helping of some questionable “influencers”—encouraging Nova Scotians to get their two doses.
So in April, Good Robot Brewing Company decided to start a new promotion to give the local vaccine culture a shot in the arm. Calling it Pints for Pro-Vax, the gastropub will sell you a 12oz beer at the lowest legal price ($2.75) if you’ve been vaccinated.
“It’s to reward those who are making an extra effort to knock these things on its tuchus,” says Good Robot co-founder Josh Counsil. “But it’s also important for our customers to know that this is our stance on the matter, and that this is a place you should feel safe going to.”
The program was shut down during the third wave, but is now back. Council tells The Coast he doesn’t recommend showing up right after your vaccine, but you can come any time over the summer to take Good Robot up on their promotion.
“We have seen a lot of, ‘I got vaxxed a month ago and just haven’t taken advantage of this yet,’” he says in a phone call with The Coast. “We request (proof) but we’re not going to force anyone to show credentials. It would be a pretty rotten thing to lie about.”
Vaxxed visitors can choose from any beer on tap at the brewery, including the watermelon mango Goodwill Beer beer created with partner social enterprise NOISE Information and Transition Agency, a group that helps provide recently incarcerated BIPOC people with resources.
“Instead of every Monday $1 every pint, we brew a collaborative batch with a partner that we choose based on our values, with a specific lens right now of serving underrepresented groups,” Council says of the new Goodwill Partnership Program that began earlier this month, which aims to raise $3,000. “And they get 50 cents of every pint of that batch sold until that batch is gone, whether it’s sold on site, whether it’s our online store.”
Right now there’s up to a dozen people a day taking Good Robot up on the discount draft offer, and most are sticking around to grab another round or a few bites to eat as well.
“I know a lot of fellow hospitality businesses are suffering right now, so the idea of get out there, get your shot, support a local business or we’re going to see a lot of them start failing,” Counsil adds. “Cash is certainly a real stressor right now for our business and for many hospitality businesses, so we’re hoping for a good summer.”
But the reaction hasn’t entirely been positive, Good Robot’s social media has actually been filled with comments and replies from people accusing the company of everything from being paid off by doctor Strang and Pfizer to being neo-Nazis.
“We got called the usual thing, socialist patsies, Nazi came out a few dozen times,” says Counsil. “We had some larger influencers or organizations take the post and start disparaging us, which was surprising.”
In good fun, Good Robot is leaning into the ridiculous replies, saying “This message was paid for by the Government of Canada, The Pfizer Corporation, The CIA and the Martian invaders who are hanging out on the other side of the moon biding their time,” in a recent post. Counsil adds, “It’s more fun to play into the story they create than the truth.”
And while it’s a bit of a social media campaign to sell more beer, Council says it shows how private businesses can actually play an important role in public health.
“In some cases, yeah, I do think they help with the uptake,” he says. “Because people put their trust in something, they put their trust in their religion or their government, their family or a business or whatever.”