Florida craft breweries bounce back
Florida's largest craft breweries rebounded big one year after the pandemic crippled the industry.
The state of beer: Florida Beer Co. of Cape Canaveral, which bought Ybor City Brewing Company in 2005 and is the state's second largest craft brewer, saw a 39% increase in sales in 2021 from the prior year, according to an exclusive Axios analysis of data from the Brewers Association.
- The state's third largest craft brewer, Coppertail Brewing in Tampa, grew by 20% last year after dropping by about the same between 2019 and 2020.
- The largest, Cigar City, collected under CANarchy, grew by 3%.
- Rounding out the list: The Florida Brewery in Auburndale grew 6%; Tampa Bay Brewing grew 19%; St. Pete's 3 Daughters grew 36%; Oyster City Brewing in Apalachicola grew 52%.
- In 2021, Florida saw eight breweries close and 28 open, the data shows.
The big picture: The craft beer industry overall grew by 8% in 2021, Axios Denver's John Frank reports.
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.
- Our analysis looked at sales reported to the association from breweries, brewpubs and taprooms, but excluded contract brewers.
- Also excluded are local breweries that don't meet the definition of independent, where less than 25% of the brewery is owned or controlled by a beverage alcohol industry member that is not itself a craft brewer.
What's next: Bart Watson, an economist for the association, says 2022 is producing mixed results with overall growth projected to be 4%–5%.
- Inflation on the cost of raw goods, particularly grain, is hurting the industry. So is competition from other alcohol products, such as canned cocktails and seltzers.
- But, there's one clear pandemic recovery, he said in a recent industry briefing: "Brewery sales are stronger and still growing."
The bottom line: For the next year, Watson anticipates an elevated "long-term growth rate … but below  when there was still strong growth bouncing back from those pandemic losses."
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