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.
So how did some breweries survive this difficult stretch and why are more closing now?
The answer for many was the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), the largest stimulus in history. And nearly $400bn of this $2.2 trillion aid package went to help small business owners, and many of those small business owners were craft breweries.
But now that kind of economic support is waning and breweries are once again on their own.
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 are burdened by debts incurred over one of the most difficult economic periods the country has ever seen.
Now with rising interest rates and the worst inflation in nearly 40 years, craft brewery closures seem to be escalating including two heritage names that dropped some bad news this week…
Last week, Ale Asylum, Madison Wisconsin’s largest craft brewery took to social media to announce that the brewery which had been up for sale for nearly a year was calling it quits. The brewery which is now located near the Dane County Regional Airport, had thought it had secured a buyer, but evidently that deal fell through
“We began with a dream and a bag of hops in May of 2006. Since then, we’ve grown into a big family of brewers, cooks, bartenders, service staff, marketing, sales, and more,” the Ale Asylum statement said.
“The past couple years have been difficult for all businesses but with your support we were able to weather the storm. However, under circumstances we cannot control we have made the decision to close our doors.”
Sierra Nevada Torpedo Room
Founded in 1980, Sierra Nevada Brewing is the nation’s third largest craft with full production breweries located in both Chico, California and Mills River North Carolina. It’s only other operation was the Torpedo Room, a designer tasting room and restaurant in Berkeley, CA, but now Sierra Nevada’ only boutique location has closed its doors for good.
This from Sierra Nevada Brewing…
Farewell, Torpedo Room…
“And thank you, craft drinkers, for the amazing Fourth Street memories. We have permanently closed the Torpedo Room as of July 2022.”
“It’s tough for us to type those words. But the effects of the pandemic, from staffing shortages to wayward foot traffic, ultimately made the Torpedo Room unsustainable.”
“Goes without saying, we’ll miss the fun. Come visit one of our breweries, and we’ll have a blast.”