Craft Brew Industry Outlook 2021

2020 was a tough year for businesses across the globe, as the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing economic downturn wreaked havoc on almost every industry. For the craft beer industry, the year was a mixed bag.

With people holed up in their homes and not much to do, alcohol consumption (and beer sales) rose significantly. For brewers with the means to distribute to local grocery stores and liquor stores, the uptick in beer consumption was a boon. For those that relied primarily on taproom traffic, it was a different story — reservations dropped precipitously and these brewers struggled to stay afloat.

As we turn the corner into 2021, some of those trends will reverse. Widespread vaccination will result in reopening restaurants and brewpubs, bringing back foot traffic to tasting rooms. Parties, barbecues, and camping trips will come back. But that doesn’t mean everything will be back to “normal.” Here’s what we envision for the next year in the craft beer industry.

A Continuation of Takeout Alcohol

Early in the pandemic, to encourage customers to stay home, many states passed provisional laws allowing alcohol to be sold via takeout and delivery. Now that the pandemic is waning, some are considering keeping those laws on the books.

In particular, Colorado’s Senate Act 20-213 was signed into law in July of 2020, extending the window for alcohol delivery and takeout to 2022. The law has been met with mixed approval from restaurants and liquor stores but should prove lucrative to breweries that have trouble distributing and can’t fill their tasting rooms.

More Accessible Beer

Anything that brings quality craft beer to more people is good news, right? The silver lining to come out of the pandemic has been a wider variety of ways for consumers to get their hands on beer. Direct-to-consumer (DTC) and online sales have spiked, and we expect that to continue, in addition to the takeout and delivery options we mentioned above.

More Virtual Events

Since almost every live event was canceled in 2020, we saw major festivals and trade shows like the Great American Beer Fest and Beers With(out) Beards go virtual. These events allowed brewers to connect with their fans from afar, a trend that’s likely to continue.

Businesses in every sector have realized that virtual events have significant benefits. They’re much easier and cheaper to host than in-person events, and without the added burden of travel, many more people can attend. It’s true that craft beer is a more hands-on interest than most, but we’ve already seen the successful implementation of virtual tastings, trivia events, and the like. We’re looking forward to more of the same.

Low- and No-Alcohol Beers

Binge drinking is up during the pandemic, and people are becoming more aware of the potential health effects of excessive alcohol consumption. Search volume for “dry January” has been up every year since about 2010. And besides, people don’t generally feel like getting drunk alone when they can’t see their friends or go out to bars and restaurants.

As a result, many in the beer industry are starting to have real conversations about responsible alcohol use, a topic they’ve been shying away from for years. Beverages like lower-calorie beers, hard seltzers, and even zero-calorie options are likely to become more popular in a more health-conscious world.

On-Site Canning

During the pandemic, many brewers struggled to get their product out the door since customers weren’t allowed to come to the brewery. Mobile canning is a short-term solution, but it’s expensive and can involve waiting on long waitlists.

To avoid being put in such a bind in the future, we predict that more breweries will turn to on-site canning. With Twin Monkeys’ customizable, flexible canning machines, even the smallest nanobreweries can find the room in their warehouses and budgets to run their own canning. If you’re ready to set up your own canning system, get in touch with Twin Monkeys today!

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