Sep 21, 2022 - News

Pennsylvania's craft breweries rebound from pandemic slump

Pennsylvania's largest craft breweries
Data: Brewers Association; Table: Thomas Oide/Axios

Some of Pennsylvania's largest craft breweries reported heady growth in the year after 2020's pandemic-fueled sales slump.

Driving the news: 11 of the 15 largest craft breweries in the Keystone State reported an uptick in sales last year compared to 2020, including Philadelphia Brewing Co, according to a report from the Colorado-based Brewers Association.

  • The state's largest craft brewery, Downingtown-based Victory Brewing Co., was among those that saw declines.

By the numbers: Pennsylvania's craft beer industry — made by small, independent breweries — is growing.

  • The number of craft breweries in the state jumped more than 9% from 2020 to 2021, reaching 486, according to the Brewers Association.
  • Plus: Craft beer production increased 2.6% during that time, rising to more than 3.2 million barrels — the second-highest volume in the U.S. behind California.

The big picture: The annual data is the most comprehensive breakdown of the state's craft beer industry.

  • Overall craft brewers in the U.S. reported 8% annual growth in 2021, Axios' John Frank reports.
  • That's after craft beer sales tumbled 9% in 2020 compared to the previous year.

Of note: Not all craft brewers are represented in the rankings because some do not submit sales and production data to the industry group.

Zoom in: Philadelphia Brewing Co., the 13th largest in Pennsylvania, saw production increase 9% last year.

  • But Philly's own Yards Brewing Co. saw production decline by 3%.

What they're saying: Adam Harris, executive director of the trade group Brewers of Pennsylvania, told Axios that staffing is the most pressing challenge facing the industry while supply chain issues and product prices are easing in the state.

  • Overall, Harris said the industry was optimistic about the remaining months of the year.
  • "They [the consumer] stuck by the craft beer industry during the pandemic," he said. "They bought local … and kept a lot of breweries in business through the pandemic."
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