Craft Sees Worst Ever BPI Trend

Dear Client:

“With temporary closures of on-premise establishments, the craft segment plummeted to its lowest ever index recording at 35,” NBWA chief economist Lester Jones wrote in the latest BPI update, for March 2020. For comparison, craft recorded an index of 55 in March 2019; and logged a 51 in the previous month (February 2020). 

We typically cover the latest readings from the NBWA’s Beer Purchasers Index in sister publication Beer Business Daily, so allow us to explain it to CBD readers real quick.

The NBWA’s BPI is an indicator of industry performance based on surveyed responses from participating beer purchasers at distributorships. Basically, they ask distribs across the country each month whether they are buying “more, the same or less beer.” A reading greater than 50 indicates segment expansion; below 50 indicates contraction.

They’ve been doing the monthly survey for six years now, and the latest BPI for March 2020, which coincides with COVID-19’s virtual shutdown of the on-premise, indeed shows that the craft segment just turned in its lowest reading ever.

To make matters worse, the index for “at-risk inventory” is on the rise in the craft segment too, which shouldn’t come as a surprise with all the establishments shuttering in the on-premise closures. 

“With temporary closures of many on-premise accounts, the craft segments ‘at risk’ index rose to 65 in March 2020 from 58 in March 2019,” Lester said.


More and more craft brewers are stepping up to help cover the cost of expired kegs since COVID shut down regular on-premise sales. 

Regional brewer, the Saint Louis Brewery, AKA Schlafly, sent note to its wholesaler partners today to share its Covid-19 Draft Beer Relief Policy:

“In an effort to support both our Distributor Partners and our Friends and Customers in the On-Premise channel; The Saint Louis Brewery LLC will be offering all distributors providing market-wide relief to on-premise retailers, 60% of the Distributors purchase cost of any untapped out of code keg of Schlafly products.  This offer will be available for all Schlafly products whether they are in your warehouse or at retail – from now until June 30th,” per Brian McBride, Supply Chain Manager.

Eligible kegs include those shipped to distributors after November 30, 2019 “that are in your warehouses according to VIP and/or that were shipped to retailers since 01/01/2020,” the brewer told distributors. They also stressed that, as their kegs are quality assured for 120 days, “it’s to everyone’s best interest to sell any kegs still in code when the On-Premise markets reopen” where possible. 

But ultimately, for out of code kegs, Schlafly said it would both pay for and arrange “all shipping and product destruction for distributor partners committed to picking up untapped kegs from their On-Premise retailers,” for eligible kegs. 

“We hope this policy provides you the confidence to assist in the revitalization of this important segment of our industry and Country’s economy,” said Brian. 


Earlier this week we wrote that Texas-based Jester King blogged about having submitted (along with the Texas Craft Brewers Guild) “signatures to Governor Abbott requesting a temporary right to ship and deliver beer, but I am not optimistic.” 

Apparently they’re hitting that drum harder. Today the company sent its newsletter recipients a call to sign the Texas Craft Brewers Guild petition, asking for Texas breweries “to be able to temporarily ship and deliver beer during the COVID-19 crisis. 

“This temporary right would go a long way towards ensuring there’s still a vibrant craft beer scene in Texas when the crisis is over,” it said. “Currently, Texas breweries are at a major disadvantage compared to other states on this front.” At time of publication the petition had roughly 14,400 signatures.

“All of Texas’ 360+ brewery taprooms (as well as the thousands of bars and restaurants they rely on for sales) are now CLOSED, largely moving to more limited To-Go only models in respect for public health and social distancing,” the online petition says, lamenting loss of jobs. 

But the petition asks for more than momentary direct to consumer provisions. Among other things, it seeks:

  • Continued permission to for breweries/brewpubs to produce beer and remain open for takeaway sales;
  • Temporary suspension of TABC excise tax payment collection “so brewers don’t have to choose between paying a tax bill and making payroll”; and
  • Excise tax credits “for any surplus beer that is disposed of as a result of COVID-19 impacts.”

JEFFREY STUFFINGS’ TAKE. We reached out to Jester King founder Jeffrey Stuffings to ask just how helpful he believed direct shipping and delivery could be, given the inherent costs. 

He said his evidence for the extent of its help was only anecdotal, but “our friends in other states who can ship and deliver have made comments to us about having their ‘biggest weeks ever’ in terms of total volume of beer sold.” Still he agrees, it’s hard to say whether that’s sustainable. 

But he appears to view more than Texas as the potential DTC market. 

“We’ve had a national and international focus since the beginning, so I presume we’d have relatively strong shipping demand, especially beyond Texas,” he said. 

“As far as who absorbs the cost, our peers have charged shipping and delivery fees. A few multinational conglomerate breweries have offered free shipping, but that’s easy for them to do under the circumstances. Other Texas breweries are supportive.” 


Boston Beer brand Sam Adams’ new project for restaurant worker relief, the Restaurant Strong Fund, raised nearly $500,000 from 2,000 individual donors in its first week, CBD reported Friday.

Now the company is announcing that the program has been expanded to 

20 total states, with much more funding. 

“Following the success of the Massachusetts launch in mid-March, Samuel Adams is donating over $2 million” to kickstart funding in almost half the country, from Massachusetts to California, Texas and beyond, Boston Beer announced today. 

“There are more than 1 million restaurants in the U.S., home to more than 15 million employees nationwide who are especially vulnerable to the effects of Covid-19 closures,” the company said. To learn more or donate, visit

CLARIFICATION: Yesterday we noted in our coverage of the newest Top 50 Craft Brewer list that Gordon Biersch jumped from 37 in 2018 to 32 in 2019, but that its restaurant-centric model would likely be embattled this year. We forgot that fact that the Gordon Biersch listed is actually the production facility in San Jose, which is separate from Craftworks, who runs the restaurants. 

Until tomorrow,

Jenn, Jordan, and Harry 

“It’s wonderful what we can do if we’re always doing.”

– George Washington

———- Sell Day Calendar ———-

Today’s Sell Day: 2

Sell days this month: 22

Sell days this month last year: 22

This month ends on a: Thurs.

This month last year ended on a: Tues.

YTD sell days Over/Under:  +1