Beer Industry CEO Says Post-Pandemic Drinking At Bars Will Never Be The Same

Brace yourselves.

Image of hands toasting with glasses of craft beer in front of distillery vat.
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If you like drinking, bars, bar-hopping — the whole thing — then you already know how the coronavirus pandemic has affected drinkers and businesses that cater to them. Home deliveries of spirits might be a hell of a good racket right now, but actual bars are having it rough.

And in a report published by Chicago Business, quotes from Molson Coors Beverage Co. Chief Executive Officer Gavin Hattersley made it clear he doesn’t see things improving much even once COVID-19 is under control.

Chicago Business indicated Hattersley was speaking at an investor conference on Tuesday and said he has “no doubt” that “it will take a very long time to recover to 100% of bars and restaurants if we ever get back to that level.”

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Even when a business is able to open again, Hattersley didn’t see things picking up, voicing concern consumers will have fewer brands to choose from. 

Hattersley’s beer business, however, hasn’t suffered as badly as it could have. Chicago Business has more:

The company’s biggest brands also aren’t losing share to hard seltzer or ready-to-drink beverages, two of the industry’s hottest trends. These categories are instead winning over customers who are new to alcohol, or crossing over from wine, hard spirits or craft beers, he said.

“The big premium lites and import brands, we don’t see much impact there,” Hattersley said.

Hattersley is being realistic about the state of things for public establishments. Even those that are currently open are suffering still, with state restrictions on what they can do too tight to do anything but restrict further commerce.

It’s hard to find an upside to this right now, with execs like Hattersley sounding worried, but there may be some hope in the kind of strong customer loyalty neighborhood bars can inspire. After Mac’s Public House in Staten Island was recently shut down for violating New York state coronavirus rules, nearly 400 customers demonstrated in the street outside shouting “Fuck [state governor Andrew] Cuomo!” and “Open up!”

The bar owners remain rebellious but Mac’s is still closed, though it’s obvious they’ve got public sentiment on their side. At least among those who aren’t too sick to even think about going out for a brew.