by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

2020 Craft Brewing Production Infographic

2020 Craft Brewing Production Infographic

by David Klemt

Stack of beer kegs in black and white

The Brewers Association‘s latest report and infographic reveal 2020 small and independent craft brewery production numbers.

Like their restaurant, bar and brewpub cohorts, brewers are facing enduring struggles due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, the Brewers Association did find some good news.

First, the challenges.

Overall Market Drop

The BA’s report reveals that small and independent craft brewer production is down nine percent from 2019. Overall, draught beer sales dropped 40 percent last year.

That equates to an overall market share of 12.3 percent in 2020. Comparing 2020 to 2019, that’s a decline of 1.3 percent.

Unfortunately, 2020 craft brewer numbers also reveal significant job loss for the industry. In comparison to 2019, direct craft beer jobs are down 14 percent.

In terms of small and independent brewery closures, 2020 saw 346 brewers close their doors permanently.

Some Silver Linings

There is some good news for craft beer. Not every closure is attributable to Covid-19.

Reviewing the 2020 numbers, the BA says there are 8,764 craft breweries operating in the United States. That’s an all-time high.

The breakdown is as follows:

  • 220 Regional craft breweries
  • 1,854 Microbreweries
  • 3,219 Brewpubs
  • 3,471 Taproom breweries

Impressively, the number of new craft brewery openings more than double the number of closures at 716.

Per Bart Watson, chief economist at the BA, the total number of craft breweries and openings in 2020 proves the “resilient and entrepreneurial nature” of small and independent brewers.

BA Infographic

You’ll find more information below. The BA’s infographic neatly tells the story of the association’s latest report.

Perhaps the biggest positive takeaway is the steady growth in operational craft breweries. Since 2016, the number of breweries in this category has increased by nearly 3,100.

That’s an average of 785 new brewery openings each year. Given the number of openings in 2020, it’s possible craft brewers will gain ground on the jobs lost over the course of last year.

It’s also likely production and sales numbers will see a boost in 2021 through a culmination of easing restrictions, reopening markets, pent-up demand, vaccination rates, and guest comfort levels.

2020 Small and Independent US Craft Brewer Annual Production Report

Infographic: Brewers Association

Image: Hennie Stander on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

This Would Be a Good Time for a Beer

This Would Be a Good Time for a Beer

by David Klemt

Draft beer on bar

New Beer’s Eve and National Beer Day are relatively new American holidays closely related to prohibition and Repeal Day.

I’m sure you’re thinking, “Wait a second—Repeal Day takes place in December. What’s wrong with you?”

First, you’re right. Second, we don’t have time to get into all of that.

However, beer became legal again well before the Eighteenth Amendment was repealed.

The Cullen–Harrison Act

It’s 1933 and a United States Senator and a Congressman sponsor a bill changing the definition of “intoxicating beverage.”

The bill is aptly known as the Cullen-Harrison Act. It doesn’t legalize all beer but it makes it legal to sell beer with alcohol content no greater than 3.2 percent.

Such alcohol content, it’s thought, is so low as to not be intoxicating.

Congress enacts the so-called Beer Permit Act on March 21, 1933. President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs the act into law the next day, and it goes into effect April 7, 1933.

President Roosevelt, signing the Cullen-Harrison Act, famously says, “I think this would be a good time for a beer.”

National Impact

Beer drinkers—and very likely people just looking for a legal drink—rejoice, obviously.

Across the United States, people gather in droves outside breweries. According to reports, people will consume 1.5 million barrels of beer the day the Cullen-Harrison Act becomes the law of the land.

Fast forward to 2009. Justin Smith, who lives in Richmond, Virginia, at the time celebrates the first National Beer Day. Smith sets off a chain of events involving social media and Untappd. In 2017, Virginia officially recognizes National Beer Day.

Let’s Celebrate!

National Beer Day is accompanied by New Beer’s Eve.

The latter celebrates those brave and thirsty souls that lined up outside our nation’s breweries the day before the Cullen-Harrison Act went into effect.

We get to celebrate two beer holidays this week: New Beer’s Eve on Tuesday and National Beer Day on Wednesday.

New Beer’s Eve is an excellent day for operators to showcase their newest beers.

Both days are ideal for highlighting 0.0 and 0.5 beers, along with what we now refer to as “session” beers (5.0 percent and lower).

Oh, and don’t forget to use President Roosevelt’s famous quote when promoting these two holidays: “I think this would be a good time for a beer.”

Image: cottonbro from Pexels

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Athletic Brewing Co. Proves Viability of Alcohol-free Beer

Athletic Brewing Co. Proves Viability of Alcohol-free Beer

by David Klemt

Doubters and detractors of non-alcoholic beer have only to look at Athletic Brewing Co. to understand the category has a long, bright future ahead of it.

Athletic Brewing opened its first taproom in Stratford, CT, back in May of 2018. A month later, the non-alcoholic brewer signed on with a distributor to launch two of their flagship beers statewide. Two years after that milestone was reached, Athletic took over a 100,000-barrel capacity facility in San Diego once owned by Ballast Point.

That would be impressive growth for any brewer, traditional or non-alcoholic. But there’s another element that really highlights the explosive growth and potential of Athletic: investment rounds.

In August of 2017, Athletic raised $250,000 in seed funding. One year later, in September, the brewer raised $500,000 in another seed funding round. A third funding round resulted in $3,122,221 in December 2019. And then came March 2020: Athletic raised $17,500,000 in Series B funding.

According to a report written by Kate Krader and published earlier this week by Bloomberg, some of Athletic’s investors are celebrities, something that had remained quiet for a few years now.

David Chang, the founder of Momofuku, NFL players Justin Tuck and JJ Watt, and Lance Armstrong are some of the celebrity backers identified by Krader as Athletic Brewing Co. backers. According to Crunchbase, Blake Mycoskie, founder of TOMS Shoes, participated in the 2020 Series B funding round.

That these investments remained under the radar shows that celebrities and other investors believe Athletic and the non-alcoholic beer category is here to stay.

We’ve grown accustomed to celebrity-backed spirits and wines. At least three celebs have scored massive paydays in spirits. George Clooney and Rande Gerber sold Casamigos to Diageo for $1 billion in 2017. Last year, Aviation Gin, owned by Ryan Reynolds, sold to Diageo for a deal worth up to $610 million.

Athletic is one of the brewers we showcased in our January 1 article “0.0 to 0.5 Beers to Know for Dry January and Beyond.” We shared some of Athletic’s story and how founder Bill Shufelt was motivated to fill a void in the market. Namely, refreshing and flavorful non-alcoholic craft beers.

Shufelt, like so many people who have chosen to live an alcohol-free lifestyle or reduce their alcohol intake, still enjoys going out to bars and restaurants to socialize. Athletic and other non-alcoholic brewers offer guests a drinking and dining experience without a sacrifice in quality.

I can clearly see an opportunity for people to invest in Athletic Brewing Co., Partake Brewing, WellBeing Brewing, Surreal Brewing Company, and others moving forward. It’s obvious that craft non-alcoholic beers have a future beyond Dry January, and it’s likely more talented brewers and celebrities will enter the category. In fact, 2021 may be the Year of NA Beer.

Image: Athletic Brewing Co.

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

How a Famous Pub Combo May Help Combat Climate Change

How a Famous Pub Combo May Show Us How to Combat Climate Change

by David Klemt

A small UK start-up has pioneered a solution to climate change that other country’s can follow.

And it centers around a wildly popular combination ordered in pubs throughout the United Kingdom.

Beer and crisps is a combination as ubiquitous in the UK as fish and chips, bangers and mash, and steak and chips.

It turns out that the pairing may be more than just a delicious drink and snack pairing—it may just save the planet.

Alright, that may be hyperbole. But one company has found a way to cut carbon dioxide emissions and reduce manufacturing waste using beer, crisps and innovation.

CCm Technologies, formerly CCm Research, is a small cleantech firm that focuses on capturing and converting carbon dioxide so it can be used by industries like agriculture and food production.

After a successful trial, Walkers, a UK brand owned by PepsiCo and based in Leicester, England, announced their intention to install CCm Technologies equipment at their factory.

The plan will work like this: Carbon dioxide captured during the fermentation process at breweries will be mixed with potato waste and converted to fertilizer. That fertilizer will be used to grow the next crop of potatoes destined to become Walkers crisps.

Walkers makes crisps (North Americans, think of them as potato chips), and the company says the plan will cut their mission by 70 percent. Breweries tend to produce significant amounts of carbon dioxide during their fermentation processes.

While the breweries that will participate in the Walkers-CCm scheme have yet to be announced, the plan will help reduce the carbon dioxide emissions they and the PepsiCo-owned brand generate.

Americans and Canadians also love beer and potato chips, so the plan has huge potential for North America, as well. In addition to Walkers, PepsiCo owns Lay’s, Tostitos, Cheetos and Fritos brands. If the circular carbon dioxide and food waste reduction plan works out in the UK, it would be great to see it implemented in the US and Canada.

In the (hopefully near) future, bartenders and servers in the US and Canada may offer guests a planet-saving yet classic combo.

Image: StockSnap from Pixabay