DENVER (KDVR) — After dealing with several months of declining sales during the pandemic, craft brewers are finally starting to see some relief.
According to the Boulder-based Brewers Association, an uptick in craft beer sales started around mid-May and continued into June.
That’s when a lot of craft breweries started reopening for in-person service.
“This return largely took place the second half of May and throughout June, depending on what part of the economy you are looking at and where. Data from BeerBoard showed only 16% of locations open and pouring beer May 8-10, a number that had risen to 84% by June 19-21,” wrote Bart Watson, chief economist for the Brewers Association.
Watson has been keeping a close eye on craft beer trends during the pandemic. He published a 2020 Midyear Craft Beer Trends report this month.
The data also shows craft brewers have a new hurdle to climb: getting people to purchase their product on location, rather than off-site.
About 40% of small craft breweries’ sales come from draft, according to the Brewers Association.
Rather than purchasing craft beer in-person during the pandemic, data shows people are opting to buy it from grocery stores or liquor stores.
“A lot of people are doing the one stop shop kind of thing where they’re going to King Soopers or Safeway or whatever their grocery store of choice is – and get their groceries and beer at the same time,” said Katie Schropher, marketing director for River North Brewery in Denver.
Research published by the IRI Group shows craft beer sales are up nearly 23% in stores over the same period last year (late May into early June).
Despite what trends are showing, Schropher said River North Brewery has seen plenty of loyal customers return in-person.
“People are getting more comfortable with going outside. We get feedback from both of our tap rooms that people are super comfortable when they go in,” Schropher said.
Craft Breweries, like River North, still plan to focus on “to-go” orders and canning/distribution efforts – given the uncertainty of where the pandemic will take them next.
“We’re getting closer to what the new normal is,” Schropher said.