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Local craft beer industry recovering from early pandemic losses


While Connecticut's craft beer industry has grown steadily over the last decade, the pandemic posed challenges to taprooms and wholesale retailers alike. Nearly half of the state's 125 breweries received federal relief funding, according to the Brewers Association.

This hour, we hear from the Connecticut Brewers Guild about how staffing shortages, supply chain snags and price hikes are still a factor for the industry.

WBUR recently reported a "carbon dioxide shortage is affecting Massachusetts craft production." Brewers Guild Executive Director Phil Pappas says the price of CO2, an integral ingredient in production and canning, has already gone up. He has concerns the shortage could affect Connecticut in the future.

The Brewers Association's annual report found that, nationally, small and independent craft brewers had "rebounded" from the pandemic. While 12 breweries have closed in Connecticut since the start of the pandemic, 22 have opened.

Plus, we hear about a new scholarship opportunity aimed at diversifying the Connecticut craft beer industry. New England Brewing Company's (NEBCO) Director of Marketing and Sales Jamal Robinson recently launched the NEBCO African American Brewers Scholarship.

The goal was to finance one aspiring brewer annually, through Sacred Heart University's new 11-month brewing science certification program, but this year they were able to support four brewers of color.

Robinson also organized the inaugural Change in the Air Festival this summer, the first Black-run beer festival in the state.

Robinson says the Change in the Air Committee that has formed around the scholarship has submitted an application for non-profit status.


To apply or donate to the NEBCO African American Scholarship, click here. To learn more about the scholarship, the Change in the Air Festival, or foundation, email Jamal Robinson at jamal@newenglandbrewing.com.

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Katie is a producer for Connecticut Public Radio's news-talk show 'Where We Live.' She has previously worked for CNN and News 8-WTNH.
Lucy leads Connecticut Public's strategies to deeply connect and build collaborations with community-focused organizations across the state.