When COVID hit in 2020, we expected a massive number of brewery closures, that didn’t happen. Sure some breweries did close during what would become almost two years of on and off lockdowns, but many of those were struggling even before the pandemic.
“2022 is going to be a make-or-break year for many breweries,” said Bart Watson, senior economist for craft beer’s largest not-for-profit the Brewers Association, while delivering the results of the association’s state-of-the-industry report.
And even though beer sales are recovering from the lows of 2020 and the public is returning to bars and taprooms for many craft breweries, things aren’t normalizing fast enough. And many breweries are burdened by debts incurred over one of the most difficult economic periods the country has ever seen.
Now with rising interest rates, supply chain shortages and the worst inflation in nearly 40 years, craft brewery closures seem to be escalating…
3 Stars Brewing
One of Washington, DC’s first craft breweries, 3 Stars Brewing shut its doors for good in July.
Founded by Dave Coleman and Mike McGarvey in 2012, 3 Stars began as a backyard project after they purchased a 40,000-gallon walk-in freezer for $1.35 and over almost a decade the brewery produced more than 200 different beers.
“3 Stars was the third production brewery to open in the District’s craft beer boom, behind DC Brau and Chocolate City Brewing Company,” Jacob Berg at DC Beer wrote….
“In December 2020 internal struggles came to a head and co-founder Dave Coleman left, as did the entire sales team. The Coleman-McGavey split was not amicable, no doubt the fallout from that plays a role in closing. Without a sales team, 3 Stars distributed their flagship beers via Premium, hoping to draw people to the brewery with specialty releases.
“It wasn’t enough.”
Smuttlabs Brewery and Kitchen
On August 4, Smuttynose Brewing’s experimental brewing location in Dover, NH, Smuttlabs Brewery & Kitchen announced that it was closing, another victim of the pandemic.
This from that announcement…
To the Dover community, our loyal customers, and to anyone who has enjoyed our love for experimental brews, scratch menus, and dad jokes…we have made the extremely difficult decision to close our Smuttlabs Brewery & Kitchen location in Dover, NH. We’d like to thank the Smuttlabs team for their continued hard work and dedication and in no way is this a reflection on their amazing talents.
Opening Smuttlabs in November 2019 was a highlight for the Smuttynose family, showcasing experimental craft beers and a unique twist on tavern fare in beautiful downtown Dover. But, with the onset of COVID shortly after opening, fluctuations in the labor market, and rising costs, we’ve been unable to regain the momentum we saw previously.
While we are disappointed to say goodbye to the Smuttlabs brand, we are thrilled to extend positions at our Hampton campus to all Smuttlabs staff. Their talents will be put to great use as our company continues to grow with both brewery production and hospitality endeavors.
Thank you to those who’ve created memories with us at Smuttlabs these last few years. We hope you’ll join us in making many more over at our Hampton campus.
District 8 Beer Company
On August 13 District 8 Beer Company, a taproom and bottle shop in Cramerton, NC that brewed its own beer under the name of South Fork Brew Project closed its doors. Founded in 2017 specifically as bottleshop and taproom, the company opened its small batch production arm in 2020 with the goal of making just enough beer to keep District 8’s taps flowing.
This from their announcement…
“Saturday August 13th is the last day District 8 Beer Company will be open. No we’re not moving. No we’re not relaunching. No this isn’t some big joke.”
“We appreciate you all”