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Do Two Texas Brewery Closures Signal Trouble For The Craft Beer Industry?

Brad Fults/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)
Big Bend Brewing Company suspended operations in late 2018.

From Texas Standard:

For years, there's been talk about the growth of the craft beer business. Breweries have been popping up all over Texas to fill a thirst for locally made suds. But it's worth wondering whether we've reached a saturation point. In December, Big Bend Brewing announced it was suspending its operations and Noble Rey Brewing in Dallas just filed for bankruptcy protection.

Justin Kendall is the assistant editor at Brewbound, an industry trade publication. He says Big Bend's troubles are connected to the failure of a Canadian company that was supposed to supply the brewery with new equipment. Big Bend had paid a deposit, which it lost – at least temporarily – when the supplier went into receivership.

As for Noble Rey, Kendall says it owes money to vendors for equipment purchases, but isn't able to pay its debts without restructuring the company to try to make it more profitable.

But beer industry troubles aren't limited to the two Texas craft brewers. Kendall says growth has slowed, and even large brewers are laying off employees.

"We're seeing a more tumultuous time for brewing," Kendall says. "There's still growth to be had, but [it's] in pockets."

Kendall says brewers need to decide where they fit in terms of size and ambition.

"If you're on the small end, you've got to be prepared to be small," he says. "If you're on the bigger end, you've got to be prepared to go for it. There's really no in-between."

Either way, Kendall says more brewery closures – and openings – will be happening in 2019.

Written by Shelly Brisbin.

Laura first joined the KUT team in April 2012. She now works for the statewide program Texas Standard as a reporter and producer. Laura came to KUT from the world of television news. She has worn many different hats as an anchor, reporter and producer at TV stations in Austin, Amarillo and Toledo, OH. Laura is a proud graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia, a triathlete and enjoys travel, film and a good beer. She enjoys spending time with her husband and pets.
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