Deschutes Brewery has laid off 10 percent of its workforce, saying business hasn’t met expectations over the past two years.
The precise number of workers affected was not known. The cuts come after the 30-year old Bend brewery pulled back on plans to build a brewing facility in Roanoke, Virginia.
“We have made the hard decision to reduce staff across sales, marketing and operations by 10 percent to match our sales volume,” said Michael LaLonde, Deschutes Brewery CEO and president. “This decision was extremely difficult to make, but necessary for the brewery given current market conditions and trends.”
The craft brewing industry has been experiencing a slowdown in the past year, the result of a maturing market. Much of the slowdown is due to the industry being crowded with brewers, said Bart Watson, Brewers Association chief economist.
“It’s slower growth and in a more competitive market than we’ve seen in the past,” Watson said. “Those that are more widely distributed brewers like Deschutes are (feeling) this the hardest.”
The industry employs 135,000 people at breweries and brewpubs, according to the Brewers Association, the craft brewing trade organization based in Colorado.
Deschutes is ranked 10th in craft brewing and 20th in overall beer sales volume, according to the Brewer’s Association. Deschutes brewed nearly 400,000 barrels in 2017.
The number of craft brewers in Oregon has more than doubled from 124 in 2011 to 266 in 2017, according to the association.
Earlier this year Deschutes Brewery told officials in Roanoke it would need to tap the brakes on its plan to build a second brewery with capacity to produce 190,000 barrels a year after experiencing a sales decline. Deschutes planned to break ground by June but recently delayed that milestone further. As outlined by Roanoke City Council documents, the brewery must come up with a performance schedule by March 31 and submit plans by Aug. 31, 2020.
“It’s sad that they’re laying off and scaling back,” said Larry Sidor, who was head brewer at Deschutes from 2004 to 2012 and co-founded Crux Fermentation Project in Bend.
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Editor’s note: This story has been corrected. An earlier version misquoted Watson.