While homespun breweries and taprooms still dot the Tucson landscape, the craft beer industry has been experiencing some turbulence.

According to the Brewers Association (BA), an American trade group of over 5,400 brewers, there was no growth in the national market in 2022 and a 2% decline in the first half of 2023.

Breweries like Borderlands Brewing Co. are doing everything they can to overcome the challenges.

Ayla Kapahi, head brewer at Borderlands, said consumers have more options to choose from.

Were definitely noticing that craft beer drinkers are drinking more than just craft beer,” Kapahi said. “Theyre interested in non-alcoholic brews, seltzers, cocktails.

Bart Watson, chief economist at the BA, told KGUN 9 rising costs and distribution expenses are part of the financial hardships.

Were often seeing breweries pull back on distribution. Breweries are seeing the input cost, the raw material cost has gone up a lot in recent years,” Watson said. “That goes beyond some of the things you might think about things like CO2 has skyrocketed in expense.

Pulling back on distribution is something that Borderlands has already done.

A lot of that has come from the COVID-19 pandemic. With the increased tier of prices on stainless steel and aluminum cans, thats created some barriers for us to widely distribute,” said Kapahi. “So were really focused on serving in our taproom.”

Despite these challenges, Watson said this is normal to see with a maturing market.

What were seeing for local breweries, taprooms and brewpubs now looks much more like what youd expect out of say the restaurant market,” he noted. “New people can still open if theyre doing something different, if they standout, if they give people a reason to come. But openings and closings are going to be roughly imbalanced.

Kapahi said the Tucson craft beer community is working to revitalize the passion for the brew; introducing Southern Arizona-inspired flavors and hosting events like the Tucson Foodie’s recent Craft Beer Crawl.

The BA is encouraging Tucsonans to continue supporting local breweries to keep the doors open.