With draught beer off the menu in many parts of the United States, the pandemic has had a noticeable impact on the beer sector which contracted three percent between 2019 and 2020. The crisis has also resulted in the craft beer sector experiencing its first production decline in the modern era, though the state of the industry remains positive with the number of new breweries climbing to an all-time high. According to the latest Craft Brewing Industry Production Report from the Brewers Association, craft beer producers churned out 23.1 million barrels of beer in difficult circumstances in 2020, a nine percent decline on 2019. That saw craft's share of the total beer market fall from 13.6 percent to 12.3 percent.
Revenue also fell noticeably with the $22.6 billion made last year down 22 percent on 2019. Despite falls in production and revenue that can be broadly attributed to a major decline in draught sales, the number of operating craft breweries continued to grow steadily, reaching a record 8,764 in 2020. That figure encompasses 1,854 microbreweries, 3,219 brewpubs, 3,471 taproom breweries, and 220 regional craft breweries. Somewhat surprisingly, only 346 breweries closed in 2020 while 716 new enterprises joined the market.
"2020 was obviously a challenging year for many small brewers, but also one that proved their resilient and entrepreneurial nature", said Bart Watson, chief economist at the Brewers Association. He added that "in a year where U.S. draught sales were down more than 40%, small brewers found new ways to connect with their customers and keep their businesses running." Despite the impact of Covid-19, the future looks bright for the American craft beer sector with Watson stating that "many small breweries will remain under pressure until they can fully reopen and welcome their communities into their breweries, the 2020 closing rate has remained on par with 2019, suggesting that the vast majority of breweries will survive going forward."