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It’s been rough year for craft beer. From the macroeconomic forces hitting the entire economy in 2022—rising rents, rampant inflation in raw materials and logistics costs, shortages, and rising labor costs—to industry-specific challenges such as changing consumer interest in packaging formats, shifting beer styles, distributor focuses, changing draft beer landscape, and more, it's become increasingly difficult to operate brewing businesses successfully.
For Port Brewing and The Lost Abbey cofounder Tomme Arthur, the solution is to “grow down,” or to get comfortable being smaller. For so many breweries, planning for future growth has long informed every decision, from branding to brewhouse. Yet after 17 years of constant reinvestment into future growth which now looks like an unreachable horizon, Arthur is having second thoughts.
In this episode, recorded initially for a written Q&A in the latest issue of our Brewing Industry Guide, Arthur shares his perspective on:
- dealing with brewery square footage that isn’t generating revenue
- challenges in shallow and wide distribution
- distributor consolidation and changing priorities
- the hidden cost increases in triple net commercial leases
- rising raw materials costs
- the shift in consumer interest in sour and mixed-fermentation beer
- revamping the existing brewhouse to be more attuned to proper inventory levels
- the hidden costs of operating more taproom locations
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