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Has Austin’s Craft Beer Boom Started to Fizzle?

AUSTIN (KXAN) – After what felt to many like a craft brewery boom over the last decade, several breweries have had to close their doors in recent years.

In north Austin, Adelbert’s Brewery closed its doors in 2022 after over a decade in service; in October, Circle Brewery closed after 15 years; and as recently as this week, Osckar Blues Brewery reportedly suddenly shut down. 

“A lot of people I know in the brewing industry are struggling – they’re at least down revenue-wise,” said Amos Lowe, Co-owner of Austin Beer Garden Brewing Co. 

“Compounding that problem is the cost of ingredients has gone through the roof. For example, I’m paying 70% more now for malted barley than it was two years ago. Some of that you can pass on to the customer, and you can adjust prices to a point. And then you have to sort of make sure that people are still going to come and buy your beer. You can’t price yourself out of the market,” he continued. 

In addition to that, soaring rent prices and property taxes make it challenging for some brewery owners to stay afloat. Lowe said he feels the beer boom that exploded in Austin at the start of 2010s has started to fizzle. “Craft beer sort of had this moment –  it was the thing to do. And it was a really special time – I feel fortunate that we were open during it. It just seems to have slowed a little bit since then,” Lowe said. 

In recent years, some have started to choose seltzers or liquor-infused beverages in lieu of a beer. 

“The beer world seems normal to me. It’s just not as busy as it was,” Lowe said. “If you don’t get out and enjoy your favorite breweries, they might not be there the next time you go out.”

Pam Cato writes about Austin’s craft beer scene for her media outlet Craft Beer Austin. She told KXAN she recognizes that many venues have had to close in recent years due to economic stress, but she still believes Austin’s beer scene is robust. 

“I’m an optimist, and I love beer. I love craft beer. I think you’re seeing the newer breweries popping up that are being very thoughtful about creating their spaces,” she said.

Cato said Austin is seeing newer breweries that offer a good space for people to work remotely, bring their kids, and have full meals. 

“Breweries are the new bars. And they’re all different – you’ve got the big outside patios, or you have nice little cozy inside spaces,” Cato said. “As long as we continue to welcome small business, I think it won’t slow down.”

Nomadic Beerworks is a medium-sized brewery in south Austin that opened in 2019. Cofounder Daniel Tyranski said since they opened, they have seen success. “We’re all about creating an on-premise experience that feels like your third place – you have got work, home, and hopefully one of our brew pubs,” Tyranski said. 

Tyranksi said he thinks we’re seeing so many big breweries in Austin close because some consumers have started to choose alternatives to beer. Nomadic Beerworks tries to keep the menu fresh so that its customers continue to have something to be excited about. So far, that has been successful – the owners recently launched a second location in Sunset Valley. 

“These little local small businesses in Austin, we’re kind of fighting for this foothold to retain a bit of what makes Austin so great,” he said.

Source : KXAN