With a record number of more than 9,000 breweries in 2021, the highest number in history and up 6% from 2020, the brewing industry in the United States has weathered the second year of the pandemic remarkably well.The figure of 710 new openings contrasted with only 176 closures.
“As the sales tide swung back toward bars, restaurant and breweries, craft breweries saw the path back to their former production point, if not new growth,” said Bart Watson, chief economist, Brewers Association. “Additional government relief continued to offset some of the economic damage wrought in 2020,” he added.
In March 2021, the American Rescue Plan Act legislation created the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF)–a USD 28.6 billion relief effort that provided grants to hospitality businesses.
An increased brewery presence positively impacts the community—in 2020, small and independent American craft brewers contributed USD 62.1 billion to the U.S. economy, the Brewers Association reported today. The industry also provided more than 400,000 total jobs, with nearly 140,000 jobs directly at breweries and brewpubs, including service staff at brewpubs.
“At the same time, supply chain challenges sprout and spread, threatening the fragile recovery with delays, disruptions, and margin eroding cost increases,” Watson said.
Despite disruptions like weather, labor shortages, manufacturing delays, and more, craft brewers overcame obstacles and proved resilient. Many breweries were nimble and pivoted to packaging their product to bring in much-needed income when their primary sales channels—tasting rooms, brewpubs, bars, and restaurants—disappeared during the pandemic. In addition, breweries showed innovation across styles and flavor, and craft as a category continued to fill the innovation pipeline with new beers to return to pre-pandemic growth levels.
For the coming year, the Brewers Association predicts
- Comparable craft production will exceed 2019 levels once again.
- On-premise sales will improve, but draught will still not be back to 2019 levels.
- At the brewery, sales will hit all-time highs.
- Operating brewery numbers will continue to climb, but at a lower rate than in previous years.
- Inflation will come to craft: brewing and manufacturing cost increases will lead to a hike in average beer prices over recent years.