“I think our staff will be very excited when the word ‘pivot’ isn’t a part of our daily vocabulary at the brewery,” says Bailey Spaulding, founder and CEO of Nashville’s Jackalope Brewing. Plainly, she speaks for many owners and operators.
Last year was supposed to be a good one for the brewing industry. Things were going well, too, before the pandemic turned everything on its head. Going into 2020, many owners were optimistic. Volume share for small and independent breweries grew for the third consecutive year in 2019, according to the Brewers Association, while retail dollar–value growth increased 6 percent over the previous year. That allowed craft brewers to claim a market share higher than 25 percent for the first time. Looking back on the initial months of 2020, BA chief economist Bart Watson noted that January and February were keeping pace with the previous year, with at-the-brewery sales showing particular promise.