Note on the U.S. Craft, Brewing Industry

By William Barnett, Wendy Harrington
1994 | Case No. SM11
Beer brewing is among the oldest and most concentrated industries in the world. Unlike most industries, brewing today consists of making essentially the same product that has been made for centuries. Yet a revolution is occurring in the U.S. beer brewing industry. Since 1977, around 400 new firms have entered the industry in the U.S. This includes many small “microbreweries” that adhere to long-established European brewing standards, “brewpub” restaurants that sell beer produced on-site, and somewhat-larger regional brewers. The new companies also include so-called “contract breweries” that market beer as if they were brewers but, in fact, brew little or no beer themselves. Together, these new organizations comprise the U.S. craft-brewing industry. This note describes this industry and some of its competitors, as well as the competitive response of the major U.S. brewers to this new wave of organizing.
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