Pandemic struggles proving too much for some Conn. breweries

January 23, 2022 GMT

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) — The pandemic has finally proved too daunting for several Connecticut breweries.

Three have closed or announced closings within the last month, and a fourth announced it is leaving its current space and assessing options for the future.

It’s a blow to an industry that has ben thriving in the state in recent years and it reflects a nationwide trend. Sales of craft beer dropped 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 folks going into their taprooms really took a toll on their business.”

Brewery owners told the Register they faced challenges from an overall decline in taproom business to having to comply with the state’s post-lockdown requirement that they also serve food.

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“We don’t have the option of serving,” Justin Terribile, owner of 30 Mile Brewery in Old Saybrook, told the newspaper. “People are more inclined to sit for a longer time period in places that have food. With us having the inability to have food, it has limited the amount of time that people spend.”

30 Mile Brewery, which opened in 2016, announced its closing recently on its Facebook page. Better Half Brewing of Bristol closed on Dec. 31 and Shebeen Brewing Company in Wolcott also is closing its taproom, the Register reported.

Taproom sales are especially important for small breweries that may not be able to make enough money from selling their products wholesale, William da Silva, a founder of Derby’s Bad Sons Beer Co., told the Register.

“A lot of these smaller breweries live on their taproom because the wholesale business — you really don’t make any money. You need to scale up to really make any money,” da Silva said. “The wholesale business went up but the volume just wasn’t there.”

There’s some good news, though, as business has picked up recently and some new breweries are emerging, including Almost Famous Brewing in East Granby and the newly opened Surfridge Brewing Company in Centerbrook.