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From Pivot to Permanent: Looking Ahead to the Post-Pandemic Landscape

Breweries that altered their businesses to stay afloat during the pandemic are beginning to see that many of those changes will stick around. Here are several ways the industry will look different on the other side.

Ben Keene Jan 29, 2021 - 11 min read

From Pivot to Permanent: Looking Ahead to the Post-Pandemic Landscape Primary Image

Like many brewery teams across the country, the staff at Lawson's Finest Liquids has become a more tight-knit unit during the pandemic. Photo: Courtesy Lawson’s Finest Liquids.

“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.

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Author of The Great Northeast Brewery Tour, a contributor to The Oxford Companion to Beer, and former editor of BeerAdvocate, Ben Keene has judged beer competitions across the US and has spoken at industry conferences and conventions. He lives in Seattle.