Sep 19, 2022 - Food and Drink

Michigan's top craft breweries see resurgence

Credit: Data: Brewers Association; Table: Thomas Oide/Axios

Michigan's largest craft breweries mostly rebounded in 2021 after being crippled by the pandemic.

The state of beer: Williamston-based Old Nation Brewing — the state's fastest growing major craft brewery that produces at least 5,000 barrels — had an 18% increase in sales, according to an exclusive Axios analysis of data from the Brewers Association.

  • Another four of these 12 major craft breweries also grew more than 15%. The group as a whole averaged 10%.
  • They had a lot of room for improvement, though — the same companies had sales decline an average of 9% in 2020.

The big picture: The national craft beer industry grew 8% in 2021, and the overall beer market moved up 1%.

  • Michigan placed one brewery, Kalamazoo-based Bell's, among the nation's 50 largest.

By the numbers: Bellaire-based Short's Brewing Co., the state's third-largest brewer, was among those that reversed a pandemic decline. It had a 9% dip in sales in 2020 and a 12% gain last year.

  • Odd Side Ales in Grand Haven was among those that bucked the recovery trend, though, seeing a 16% increase in sales in 2020 and a 2% decrease last year.
  • In 2021, Michigan had 26 breweries, brewpubs and taprooms open and nine close.

Between the lines: The annual data — published in the New Brewer journal — is the most comprehensive breakdown of the state's craft beer industry.

  • Not all craft brewers are represented in the rankings because some do not submit data to the Brewers Association, the industry's trade group.

Zoom in: "I don't think we're out of the woods yet," Scott Graham, executive director of the Michigan Brewers Guild, tells Axios.

  • Breweries are dealing with high costs of goods, supply chain interruptions and staffing shortages, he says.

What's next: The national association's Bart Watson, who compiled the data, says 2022 is producing mixed results and growth projected near 4 to 5%.


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