How COVID-19 Changed the Way We Drink Beer

Breweries are slowly bouncing back. Other venues are not.

beer glass overflowing under the tap
Have customers returned to bars and breweries?
JMacPherson/Creative Commons

It’s not surprising that people are drinking at home more frequently since the pandemic began back in March. But new data from beer social-networking app Untappd shows exactly how swiftly our drinking habits changed once lockdown began.

During the week of March 13, the app saw a sharp increase in non-public (or at-home) check-ins, from 20 percent to 50 percent. By March 17, public check-ins at venues like bars and restaurants were in a freefall — a 93-percent decrease over the course of one week.

And while bars and restaurants have since reopened in a limited capacity in many places, the impact on where people are drinking beer likely could be long-term. Before the pandemic hit, the top five venue categories on the app with the highest number of check-ins were as follows:

  1. Bars & Nightlife
  2. Food
  3. Travel & Transport
  4. Arts & Entertainment
  5. Shops & Service

However, as of mid-August, Bars & Nightlife still holds the top spot, but Arts & Entertainment (which includes live events like festivals) and Travel & Transport have fallen out of the top five completely. As more people attempt socially distanced hangouts with friends at parks and beaches, the Outdoors (Parks, Hiking, etc.) category has risen to the number three spot.

More at-home and outdoor drinking also means we’ve seen more people relying on canned beer. Can check-ins on the app saw a 50-percent increase from 2019, and draft check-ins have dropped by 65 percent.

There is some encouraging news for craft brewers, though: When lockdown started, check-ins in the app’s Brewery category dropped by a whopping 80 percent. But since July, there has been an average daily increase of 4 percent in check-ins at breweries, as things slowly but surely begin to return to normal.


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