NEW HAVEN (AP) — The pandemic ultimately proved too daunting for several Connecticut breweries.
Three have closed or announced closures in the past month, and a fourth has announced it is leaving its current space and assessing options for the future.
It’s a blow to an industry that has flourished in the state in recent years and reflects a national trend. Craft beer sales fell more than 9% in 2020, according to the Brewers Association.
“Keeping their doors open has been a real struggle for so many Connecticut breweries,” Kevin Mardorf, founder of CTBeer.com, told the New Haven Register. “With all the COVID restrictions, limiting people going to their bathrooms has really hurt their business.”
Brewery owners told the Register they faced challenges ranging from an overall decline in dining room operations to the need to comply with the state’s post-lockdown requirement that they serve also food.
“We don’t have the ability to serve,” Justin Terribile, owner of 30 Mile Brewery in Old Saybrook, told the newspaper. “People are more inclined to sit longer in places where there is food. Since we don’t have the option of having food, it has limited the time people spend.”
30 Mile Brewery, which opened in 2016, recently announced its closure on its Facebook page. Better Half Brewing in Bristol closed on December 31 and Shebeen Brewing Company in Wolcott is also closing its tavern, the register reported.
Floor sales are especially important for small breweries that can’t make enough money selling their products wholesale, William da Silva, founder of Derby’s Bad Sons Beer Co., told the Register.
“A lot of these small breweries live off their throughput because wholesale really doesn’t make you any money. You have to evolve to really make money,” da Silva said. “Wholesale trade increased, but the volume just wasn’t there.”
There is good news, however, as business has picked up recently and new breweries are springing up, including the Almost Famous Brewing in East Granby and the new Surfridge Brewing Company in Centerbrook.