Apr 6, 2022 - Business

Colorado brewers and craft beer industry rebound in 2021

Data: Brewers Association; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

American craft brewers rebounded from the pandemic with 8% annual growth and 24.8 million barrels of beer in 2021, new data shows.

Why it matters: Colorado is home to more than 400 craft breweries that collectively amount to a $3 billion industry.

State of beer: The increase easily exceeded that of the overall beer market, which grew by 1% in 2021, as taprooms and brewpubs returned to life with eased public health restrictions, according to a report released Tuesday by the Brewers Association, the Boulder-based trade group.

  • 9,069 breweries were operating at the end of the year nationwide, and openings exceeded closures nearly four-fold.

What they're saying: Bart Watson, the association's chief economist, expects craft beer production to exceed pre-pandemic levels this year, but not all breweries will recover.

  • "Even with a bounce-back year, many breweries are still struggling," he told reporters. "2022 is going to be a make-or-break year for many breweries."

Zoom in: Three Colorado brewers landed in the top 50 craft breweries by production volume, roughly maintaining their positions from a year ago.

7. Oskar Blues Brewery (Canarchy) in Longmont

20. Odell Brewing in Fort Collins

47. Left Hand Brewing in Longmont

Of note: Some other Colorado-connected breweries, which the association doesn't consider "craft" because they are owned by major conglomerates, appeared on a separate list of the 50 overall largest in the U.S.

  • They are Anheuser-Busch (#1); MolsonCoors (#2); New Belgium Brewing/Kirin (#11); and Founders/Avery/Mahou San Miguel (#13).

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