With independent craft brewers projected to be down by roughly 8% in 2020, Bart Watson, economist for the Brewers Association said in an interview with Forbes said he predicts a return to growth in 2021, but not back to the level of growth the industry saw in the pre-pandemic years.
“I think it’s hard to see a world where sales get back to where they were in 2019,” Bart said.
Independent craft beer was up 4% in 2019.
“We will have a first-quarter that I think will look a lot like the second half of this year with sales down double digits. Then a second quarter where maybe things are getting back to normal, but it still will be a challenging quarter,” he said. “Even if things get back to normal, we’re not going to see things returning to a thousand brewery openings a year anytime soon.”
Like many others in the industry today, Bart feels like the singular business model that relies on selling most or all of beer production on-site direct to the customer may be riskier in the future. “I think that if there’s one legacy here it’s that breweries are going to try to be a little bit more diversified in the ways they sell beer.”
Full interview here.