Recession Blues Redux, All Bad News Edition

In my post below about how the recession is affecting local brewers, I offered the hopeful--and wrong, it turns out--news that craft breweries saw sales rise in '09. I spoke to the Oregon Brewers Guild's Brian Butenschoen and got the lowdown: craft beer sales are down 5% and 7% in January and February. The bit that confused me was that beer sales are up 10% and 20% in those same months. I asked Brian to explain, and he gave some more texture.
  • He thinks sales of imports are down, as are national micros like Sam Adams and Sierra Nevada.
  • He thinks the only windfall is in the "value segment" (PBR and the like).
  • A big factor in Oregon's situation may be pub and restaurant sales, which account for just about half the beer sales. He wonders if the shift is coming as people forgo the $5 pint and buy an eight-dollar sixer instead.
  • It's hard to know how bad things will get, but summer sales should be illustrative. If sales remain poor, it could mean we're in for a long down period. If they show signs of rebounding, that will be good news for breweries who make the bulk of their money during the sunny months.
As always, I'll keep you posted.