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Beer trends: Supply chain issues will likely be an ongoing concern for local and national breweries heading into the new year.
Supply chain issues will likely be an ongoing concern for local and national breweries heading into the new year. Photo by Mika Baumeister
Cheers! North County Columns Food & Wine

More Beer Trends 2022: Supply chain, omicron, non-beer beverages

Last week, I shared the Industry Research report, which anticipates a $65,000,000,000 increase in worldwide beer industry revenue between 2021-25. I looked in my refrigerator and thought, “Yep, seems about right.”

But it can’t be just me driving such dramatic growth during a pandemic playing with the heartstrings of brewery owners like a yo-yo. Not a good yo-yo either — a cheap one that is hard to predict and will likely get tangled around your elbow. 

I reached out to local breweries like Thorn Brewing and New English Brewing (recently featured in the Cheers! column) to ask what they thought would be trending in 2022.

“I think you will see breweries in 2022 working to differentiate themselves from the pack and align their businesses with their key values,” said Anna Brigham, director of marketing at Thorn Brewing. “More and more, consumers are looking to breweries that not only make great beer but also use their platform to positively impact their community which really is a win/win for everyone.”

I am already making an effort to align my beer purchases more fully, so that made a lot of sense to me. 

Tom Kiely, general manager of Thorn Beer, chimed in about operations and beer styles.

“I think the most likely trend is an increase in price to the consumer for canned beer,” Kiely said. “Almost everything that goes into packaging a case of beer — corrugated trays, cans, labels — is harder to find and [becoming] more expensive to buy. Two-Row (base malt ingredient used in beer production) is getting really expensive. Freight [costs] to get any of these things in the door is getting more expensive.

“Plus, wholesalers and retailers each take the same percentage cut as when these things were cheaper and easier to find, so you get an exponentially more expensive product at the end. We might see some surprising out-of-stocks on core beers or temporary switches to glass bottles [opposed to cans]. I also think you’ll see more regional breweries (or production breweries) diversifying their lineups with RTD’s [ready-to-drink] and other non-beer [products] like hard tea or other sugar-based stuff.”

Beer trends: According to Simon Lacy of new English brewing, ongoing supply chain issues are expected to increase the price of from malted barley and packaging materials to insurance and freight
According to Simon Lacy of New English Brewing, ongoing supply chain issues are expected to increase the price of from malted barley and packaging materials to insurance and freight. Photo by Timothy Dykes

I also wanted to know more about what Tom thought might be on the horizon for the beer I find in my fridge. He replied, “I don’t anticipate any significant spikes in styles for craft beer. I imagine most of the innovation will be in non-beer. I’d be surprised if there isn’t a larger brewery making a canned michelada by the beginning of next year, and I’d love to see a lager-only San Diego brewery in distribution this year, but I don’t think it’s going to happen.”

Simon Lacy is the founder and president of New English Brewing, who shared his thoughts about COVID-19 and ongoing supply-chain issues impacting the beer industry.

“Heading into 2022, we are optimistic that the worst of the pandemic is behind us, although we still have to get past omicron and hope that another variant doesn’t emerge,” Lacy said. “Headwinds are expected from the continuing supply chain issues causing increases in the price of everything from malted barley, packaging materials, energy such as natural gas and electricity to insurance and freight. Overall, we are looking forward to engaging with our customers, both in the trade and at the tasting room, and to getting back to normal — making great beer and having fun sharing it.”

As I reach out to more and more breweries, the concerns about supply chain logistics seem to be a constant shadow despite the optimistic projections shown in the Industry Research study.

The worldwide growth in the Industry Research report primarily focused on sales from larger beer companies, including “several leading craft beer market vendors that include Anheuser-Busch InBev SA/NV, Asahi Group Holdings Ltd., Carlsberg Breweries AS, D.G. Yuengling & Son Inc., Diageo Plc, Duvel Moortgat NV, Heineken NV, Kirin Holdings Company Ltd., New Belgium Brewing Co., and The Boston Beer Co. Inc.”

I don’t see a lot of “craft beer” on that list. These are companies with enough buying power to dictate the terms of the supply chain, not your neighborhood brewers.

I’ll continue to check in with local breweries throughout the new year, staying flexible with beer styles and nimble as local breweries in a constantly changing operational landscape. Cheers, everyone!

Stream the classic episodes of the Roast! West Coast coffee podcast on the Coast News Podcast page, and be sure to follow Cheers! North County on FacebookTwitter and Instagram. Got an interesting story about your drinking adventures? Reach out! I want to hear it.

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