Why You Should Support Local Breweries During the Pandemic

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Just like the restaurant industry, Connecticut's craft beer industry is struggling.

Now more than ever, local breweries need your help.

Before the pandemic, the industry was booming. In 2017, there were about 40 breweries and now, there are more than 120.

In the past month alone, four have had to close their doors.

"I don't think that any of us expected this pandemic to last as long as it did. Again, looking back at where we were two years ago we said, maybe two weeks, a month at most, you know, when the warm weather comes around, we'll be okay. And that light at the end of the tunnel just keeps on extending," said Executive Director of CT Brewers Guild Phil Pappas.

Back in December of 2020, there was a rule that required all bars and breweries to sell food in order to stay open. That lasted until May of 2021.

Pappas said the industry is still trying to make up for the financial loss of the closures, on top of staffing shortages and bad weather preventing outdoor dining.

"We incurred so much cost of implementing food programs at our breweries. That really hurt a lot of people and it's hard to recoup that amount of money," Pappas said. "We're seeing staff shortages at the highest rate we've seen in recent years. We've also seen our raw ingredient prices go up significantly around 15% to 20% year to year."

And they're also facing supply chain issues. Because of that, one of the largest canning manufacturers increased its minimum order to one million cans.

Pappas said no brewery in the state can use or store that many cans.

"In the last two years, obviously, we've seen our draft sales significantly decline about 20 plus percent since the curfew with restaurants and bars not ordering as much. So we've converted to cans a lot for distribution and to direct consumer sales. And those supply chain issues are going to significantly increase prices," Pappas said.

He's hopeful the industry will rebound and expects six to eight new breweries will open this year. They'll be even better off if Congress replenishes the Restaurant Revitalization Fund.

For anyone who'd like to help these breweries, Pappas said with the big game coming up next weekend, think about grabbing some local beer - even though you'll see a lot of Super Bowl commercials for the massive companies.

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