Tennessee craft breweries rebound post-pandemic
Tennessee's largest craft breweries massively rebounded in 2021, a year after the pandemic crippled the industry.
The state of beer: Bearded Iris was Nashville's fastest growing craft brewery in 2021 with a 42% increase in sales, according to an exclusive analysis of Brewers Association data by Axios reporter John Frank.
- Wiseacre Brewing Co. from Memphis saw 32% growth last year.
- Yazoo, the godfather of Nashville craft brewing, sold 16,000 barrels and grew by 28% in 2021.
- Tennessee ranks No. 21 in the nation for number of breweries with 141, according to the data.
The big picture: The craft beer industry grew by 8% in 2021, while the overall market moved up 1%.
Between the lines: The annual data — published for its members in the New Brewer journal — is the most comprehensive breakdown of the state's craft beer industry.
Yes, but: Not all craft brewers are represented in the rankings because some do not submit sales and production data to the Colorado-based Brewers Association, the industry's trade group.
- TailGate Brewery, which rapidly expanded in recent years, is not included in the data. Just this year, TailGate announced new locations in Germantown, Chattanooga and Hendersonville.
- Our analysis looked at sales from breweries, brewpubs and taprooms, but excluded contract brewers.
- Also excluded are local breweries that don't meet the definition of independent.
What's next: The association's Bart Watson compiled the data and says 2022 is producing mixed results, with growth projected near 4-5%.
- Inflation in the cost of raw goods, particularly grain, is hurting the industry. So is competition from other alcohol products, such as canned cocktails and seltzers.
- One clear pandemic recovery, he said in a recent industry briefing: "At the brewery sales are stronger and still growing so that's a bright spot."
The bottom line: For the next year, Watson sees an elevated "long-term growth rate … but below  when there was still strong growth bouncing back from those pandemic losses."
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