Craft breweries offer so much more than simply a unique and delicious beer — they’re places for us to gather with friends and loved ones, and celebrate local businesses. With a large percentage of sales at craft breweries coming from patrons enjoying a beer at the brewery, it’s no wonder breweries across the country struggled financially with mandated closures during the pandemic. It was reported by the Brewers Association that craft beer’s volume declined by over 9 percent in 2020, with 36 of the top 50 craft brewing companies reporting output decline relative to 2019.
Luckily, the craft beer industry finally has something to celebrate. According to the New Brewer magazine’s May/June edition, 28 of the top 50 craft breweries have reported that their output increased over the course of 2021. The number two craft brewery, Boston Beer — the umbrella company that produces names like Sam Adams and Dogfish Head — reported the largest volume increase with their output growing by six percent, producing a total of 1.8 million barrels of beer.
As is the case in every industry, some breweries experience growth in the same years others may experience decline. Each of the top 10 craft brewers lost at least some share in 2021 — Sierra Nevada, the number three craft brewery, reported an output decrease of 1 percent. The small declines in output proved to be irrelevant to growth overall, as companies like Brooklyn Brewery reported 18 percent growth, and top 50 newcomer Athletic Brewing reported an astronomical 177 percent growth in 2021.
With the ease of Covid-19 restrictions, people are flocking back to bars and restaurants eager to spend time out in public again, and the proof is in the pudding (or pilsner). For the industry as a whole, retail sales of craft beers totaled over $26.8 billion in 2021, 21 percent higher than the previous year. Furthermore, production volume in the industry as a whole grew by 7.9 percent, allowing for craft beer to now take up approximately 27 percent of the total share of the $100 billion U.S. beer market.