News Slowing Interest in Draft Beer May Impact Brewery Tap Rooms

Draft sales across the on-premise trade have still not recovered since the pandemic and are struggling to reach 2019 levels. This is likely a trend that won’t change anytime soon, as retailers balk at higher keg prices, non-beer products take more tap handles and consumer habits continue to shift in new directions. While this decline in draft beer sales has been noticed in the retail sector, concern is growing that the trend may begin to impact the brewery tap room business.

The mantra for growing beers sales over the last four decades has always been to gain exposure to your brand at the on-premise (push) which will translate to packaged sales at the off-premise (pull). During a panel discussion at the Great American Beer Festival (GABF) last month in Denver, Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head Brewery stated that only 23% of Dogfish Head beer sales currently can be attributed to draft. A mere five years ago, many breweries the size of Dogfish were humming at 40-50% draft.

The reasons consumers are avoiding draft is many, including a turn to spirits, wine, non-traditional beer products, cannabis, moderation or full sobriety. Each of the above is not the sole domain of the on-premise retailer, but could also impact those craft brewers who depend on “own-premise” sales. The brewery tap room has been a savior to many small brewers who depend on the high margin sales to survive.

The solution? Diversify and customer experience. Provide non-beer products (that your license allows) to satisfy changing consumer’s needs. And make sure your tap room is comfortable, inviting and a happy place to be.

More on the GABF panel discussions and draft beer sales here.

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