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Spring Housing Guide

Local craft beer sales boom amidst national decline

Alivia Hartpence
Photo of Juniper Brewing Company’s machinery.

People aren’t drinking as much craft beer as they used to, according to an article written by Forbes with data from the Brewing Association (BA).

The BA reported craft beer sales declined 2% in 2023 due to people drinking other alcoholic beverages and shifting towards a healthier lifestyle. Despite craft beer sales declining, sales for spirits like vodka and tequila have been on the rise. 

In Ohio, craft beer is a $2 billion industry and is home to around 402 breweries in the state, including three local ones in Bowling Green. 

Juniper Brewing Co, one of the local breweries in the area, focuses on a community based meeting space within their brewhouse that serves food, coffee, and beer in Downtown BG. 

Zach Tracy, the co-owner of Juniper says that he was aware of the data, but that it hasn’t affected Juniper at all. Partially for what he calls the “local trend” and the local community base. 

“Gen Z demographic, that’s what they’re into. They love this idea of… hyper local and being able to support that. And I think breweries have always just naturally gravitated and tried to support that themselves. So it’s kind of this reciprocal relationship they have with their customers and the customers know that about the breweries and the breweries know that about their customers,” Tracy said.

Juniper brews all of their beer in house, and during COVID-19, resorted to beer packaging and canning to help restore the sales that they lost by not being open.

 Since then, Juniper’s packaged craft beer has been on the rise, being sold in local gas stations, it being the official beer of BGSU Athletics, and soon to be sold in stores. 

“We’ve started to focus on distribution and whole-sale. We’ve expanded, and I feel like we’re always expanding somewhere between some nook and cranny in this space…” said Tracy. “We have probably more than 40 accounts that we are sending kegs to, and another 15 to 20 that don’t have drafts but take our cans.”

He explained that doing this helps recuperate the loss of sales that may happen while college students leave during winter and summer break. 

He also thinks that the main shift in craft beer sales is rather affordability, and reconnecting with breweries after COVID-19. Luckily, the space they had could draw people in to provide them that connection. 

“I think not everyone was as fortunate as we were to have everything kind of, wide out in the open. But I was a teacher in my former life for 13 years and my wife and I both knew that having it out in the open would spark discussions and peoples curiosities and I think breweries in of themselves do that,” Tracy said. 

Aistear, another local brewery in the area, is a fantasy themed taproom that allows people to come drink, play games, and talk with friends. 

Jacob Reese, the manager of Aistear Brewery says that like Juniper, they were also not affected by the data, but aren’t surprised that people are drinking less craft beer- but rather because it is too expensive. 

“There’s definitely a desire for craft beer out there and people are coming out and purchasing it. I’d say there is an increase of interest in craft beer, it’s just being matched by the difficulties that people are facing.”  Reese said. “If there wasn’t an increase happening a lot more people would be closing, a lot more people would be going out of business because they can’t keep up, but we’re kind of matching. We’re keeping pace,”

Reese also says that maintaining the mystical theme with drinks and matching people where they are financially, is how they have been able to maintain community connection. 

“I think our business is successful because of the uniqueness. There are very few businesses open that do the things that we do,” Reese said. 

Similar to Juniper, Aistear also was open during the COVID-19 pandemic, leading them to a shift that they said was hard, and making sure that all the beer that they were brewing in house was getting sold was essential. 

“We were only able to do to-go orders, whether that was filling bottles, cans, prowlers… So over the course of that summer we did a lot of bottle sales that kept us open. So afterward it was a lot slower business as people recovered from COVID-19…” Reese said.

He also mentioned that they still sell their canned beer in their brewhouse, which brings in revenue for the taphouse. 

“It has felt like it has stabilized and that it’s at a normal level again. We are pushing to try to increase it now, to try to grow the business now that we feel we have recovered from COVID-19,” Reese mentioned. 

Both local breweries say that they are in good places, and are excited to keep growing and expanding as time goes on. 

For more information about Juniper Brewing Company or Aistear, you can check out their socials at juniperbrews and aistear_brewing.


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    NickJan 28, 2024 at 5:23 pm

    There are four local breweries in BG! Don’t forget Arlyn’s and Brewing Green.