Oct 3, 2022 - Food and Drink

How record heat and inflation impact local breweries

Animated illustration of four different kinds of beers.

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

Texas' unseasonably hot summer, coupled with rising prices, has left some local craft breweries struggling to bounce back to pre-pandemic levels.

Why it matters: Local breweries are still regaining their financial footing after the pandemic shuttered taprooms and halted in-person events with draft beer.

Zoom in: Houston-based Saint Arnold Brewing Co., one of the largest breweries in the state, has seen a decrease in grocery store sales since the pandemic high, but has seen a slight increase in bar, restaurant and venue sales.

  • "It's still well below where it was in 2019. And I'm not sure how long or if ever it gets back to where it was pre-COVID," says Saint Arnold founder Brock Wagner.

By the numbers: While the company is still in strong financial standing, margins are thin this year, Wagner says. Consumption has decreased, while the costs of cans and grains have gone up about 30%, and labor costs have also increased.

What they're saying: Triple-digit temperatures don't help.

  • "When temperatures get up close to 100, it has a negative impact on beer sales because people just like to drink outside. Houston is very much an outdoor community, and when it's hot, people stay indoors," Wagner says.

What's next: Saint Arnold's is focused on diversifying its product portfolios to keep up with consumer interest. The company has gotten into making nonalcoholic beverages and has expanded its private event space business.


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