American Craft Beers Hit By Pandemic

Marshfield, Vermont – Wine, spirits, and beer sales have increased during the coronavirus pandemic, but not for some microbreweries in the United States.

Craft beer, especially that produced by small producers, is often consumed in bars, restaurants, and taverns, all of which have closed in many communities in the country. Although these brewers can sell packages of bottles or kegs, they rely heavily on those public establishments for their sales.

As a result, several small craft brewers have been forced to lay off employees and dump large quantities of their precious product. Many have chosen to deliver at home or at the entrance of the breweries, but even these steps do not compensate for the losses.


“COVID-19 has been devastating for small, independent craft brewers across the country,” said Bob Pease, president and CEO of the Brewers Association, which he said he knows of brewers who have lost their businesses. About half of the brewers surveyed in an association poll said they would have to close their doors if the quarantine lasts more than three months, according to Pease.

Some larger independent breweries, whose beer is distributed to supermarkets and liquor stores, have seen a surge in such sales during the pandemic, but are still losing ground without their facilities open to the public and with bars and restaurants closed.

Craft beer take-out sales are up 17% in the nine-week period ended May 2 compared to the same period last year, but major brand names are growing at a faster pace, said Danelle Kosmal, vice president of alcoholic beverages for the Nielsen Company. Total beer sales, which include flavored malt beverages, were up 20%. Wine sales rose 30% and liquor sales 34% in the same period, says Nielsen.

At Jack’s Abby in Framingham, Massachusetts, known for its lager, co-owner Sam Hendler said the company may have to dump 380,000 liters (100,000 gallons) of beer, despite being among the breweries it sells to markets and liquor stores. It has also laid off half of its employees and sales fell 50% in April compared to the same month last year.