Stoudts Brewing Co., a 1980s pioneer in the Pennsylvania craft brewing industry, will close in early spring, the Adamstown company said Monday.
“This was a difficult decision to make,” founder Carol Stoudt said, “but we’re not moving enough volume to justify the expense of keeping the brewery open. However, we’re not closing the doors to any business opportunities that could help the Stoudts brand live on.”
A news release on the company’s website said Stoudt was preparing to retire.
When Stoudts opened in 1987 in Lancaster County, it was the only craft brewery in Pennsylvania. That was well before the industry took off in the Philadelphia region with the founding in the 1990s of such companies as Victory, Yards, and Dogfish Head.
In 2018, Pennsylvania had 354 craft breweries, according to the Brewers Association, a trade group, and the size of some breweries has exploded.
The Reading Eagle reported in 2015 that Stoudts Brewing had the capacity to brew 15,000 barrels a year. By contrast, Victory, founded in 1996, opened a brewery near Parkesburg in 2014 that has the capacity to brew more than 500,000 barrels of beer a year, according to the company’s website. Victory was sold to Artisanal Brewing Ventures in 2016.
The Brewers Association estimated that Stoudt produced 2,400 barrels of beer in 2018, compared to the 40,296 produced by Yards.
William Reed, co-owner of the Standard Tap and Johnny Brenda’s and himself an early player in the Philadelphia brewing scene, said he was sorry to learn of Stoudt’s closing.
“She was a pioneer, both straight up as a brewer and as a woman in brewing. One of the greats. So many people look up to her,” Reed said.
One challenge for Stoudt was the beer world’s obsession with India pale ales (IPA). “That was never their identity. It’s like a perfect, crisp Pilsner is how I think of Stoudt’s,” Reed said.
Other businesses at the Adamstown location, a restaurant and pub, a beer garden that hosts weddings and events, a bakery, and an antiques mall, will continue, the release said.