As much as I’d hoped 2021 would be a fresh start, we all know how that panned out. While some of my beer colleagues resumed international travel and partied like it was 2019, I did an admittedly crummy job of getting out of the five boroughs. I made it to just a smattering of beer events—a couple of festivals, a few tastings, a handful of new breweries and bars—so mostly I sampled new beers at home, at friends’ small gatherings, or outdoor events.
I wasn’t the only one: Recent statistics from the Brewers Association illustrate the industry’s struggles. Overall beer sales were down 2.3% in 2020, while craft beer sales fell more than 9%. Retail dollar sales of craft beer decreased by a whopping 22%, the primary reason being a shift from tasting rooms, bars, and restaurants to retail packaged sales.