Like many other things, the craft beer industry is steadily bouncing back after the pandemic peak in 2020, according to the Brewers Association.

When the lights of nightlife went off, the oxygen to the craft beer business shut off.

Co-owner of Atypical Brewery and Barrelworks Eric Johnson said, “So really 2020 was the worst year you know so we got full shut down for a time there.”

Johnson had just quit his job to be a full-time brewer. The lifeline for brewers like him was curbside and delivery orders.

“Basically we were only selling cans for off sale, they did allow off sale still,” said Johnson.

Even so, supply chain challenges made it difficult for some to get hold of cans.

“We just couldn’t get them or get them at a price that was reasonable and we were forced to stop canning for almost a year,” said Erin Thompson, owners of Souris River Brewery.

Souris River Brewery is one of the oldest breweries in Minot and its owner says not having cans affected their sales a lot.

According to the Brewers Association, U.S. craft beer sales declined by 9 percent in 2020 and total beer industry sales declined from $116 billion to $94 billion the same year.

But as the bright lights shine again on the nightlife, brewers have found themselves back business.

“The first signs of rebound were in the third quarter of 2020 so going into fall 2020 we started to see a rebound,” Thompson said.

That rebound continued into 2021 but brewers say it slightly lags behind sales in 2019.

“We, unfortunately, are not we’re just not quite seeing the people come out as they used to quite yet. We’re close but not quite there,” he explained.

New variants of COVID-19 keep popping up and some brewers worry this could mean future closures. Nonetheless, with vaccinations on the rise, they also remain hopeful.

“The winter months are always generally slowed down but last winter in particular COVID was getting quite a bit worse again,” said Johnson. “We were wondering if we were going to get shut down again that sort of thing so there definitely was a lot of uncertainty in the whole thing.”

And in order to keep uncertainty in check and optimism high, brewers will need people protected and stepping out more.

National Beer Sales and Production Data showed that in 2019, the craft beer industry contributed $267 million to the North Dakotan economy.