Sep 15, 2022 - Food and Drink

How record heat and inflation impact Austin breweries

A musician plays to a mostly empty patio area at a bar in Austin. Photo: Sergio Flores/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Texas' unseasonably hot summer coupled with rising prices have left some local craft breweries struggling to bounce back from their pandemic-related problems.

Why it matters: The pandemic shuttered taprooms and stopped production at many breweries, and local brewers are still regaining their footing.

Zoom in: While Austin Beerworks posted a 12% increase in 2021, the local craft brewery has yet to return to its pre-pandemic levels.

  • That's a similar trend at other Texas breweries. Of the state's top ten spots based on number of barrels sold, six breweries have yet to reach or surpass their 2019 sales.

What they're saying: Blame it on the triple-digit temps and inflation, said Austin Beerworks co-founder Michael Graham.

  • "Locally, it was a record-heat summer, and there were less people going out and less people sitting on patios," Graham said, adding that inflation and high gas prices made it easy "for folks to cut [craft beer] out of their budget."
  • Plus, consumers have generally moved toward spirits over wines and beers, a move that's hurt local breweries. "We're a tiny fish in the big beverage ocean ... we benefit if beer is doing well," Graham added.

Of note: Austin Beerworks generally sees higher sales during the fall and winter months as consumers reach for beer during cooler weather, festival season and sporting events.


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