The Vital Role Local Craft Breweries Play in Communities

 Written by Henry Moore

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Photo Credit: jarmoluk, Pixabay

Even though the growth of the American Brewing Industry (think Anheuser Busch and Miller) has dropped off, the growth of the American Craft Brewing Industry has taken off and continues to grow. In 2016, craft beer made up more than 12 percent of the U.S. beer market, up from seven percent in 2013. While business is booming for craft breweries, they give back to their communities and economies in a variety of ways.

Transforming Neighborhoods

Breweries across the United States are transforming neighborhoods. Roughly 35 years ago, beer enthusiasts started turning abandoned, old buildings in rundown city districts into breweries. After local breweries set up shop, other new small businesses popped up and thrived, drawing young people to plant their roots. Pretty soon, the arrival of a craft brewery was one of the first signs that a neighborhood was changing.

One example is in a neighborhood in Cleveland, where residents had been rapidly leaving because manufacturing jobs disappeared in the 1950s and the city nearly went bankrupt in 1978. Although the neighborhood was viewed as dangerous and ruined in the 1980s, Great Lakes Brewing opened in the area in 1988.

Over the years, Great Lakes built a brewery and a brewpub from buildings that were once a saloon, a feed store, and a livery stable. The brewery has beautified and restored the neighborhood, and other local breweries and businesses followed. People are now herding to the neighborhood to live, and a city market – consisting of more than 100 vendors who sell produce, meat, cheese, and other foods there – has opened. Scenarios like this are happening all across the country.

Good for Local Economies

Another benefit of local breweries moving to cities is manufacturers, like brewers, typically pay workers more than service businesses like restaurants or shops do, which is great incentive for people moving to the area. Additionally, they actually bring jobs. In fact, in 2014, the craft beer industry provided more than 424,000 jobs, and more than 115,000 jobs were physically at the breweries and brewpubs, which is good for local economies.

In 2014, small and independent American craft brewers contributed $55.7 billion to the U.S. economy. The contribution includes capital gained as the beer moved through breweries, wholesalers, and retailers. It also accounts for non-beer products, such as food and merchandise.

There is also a growing trend of craft brewers who are using seasonal, regionally grown ingredients in their beers. From espresso to peaches to ginger, breweries are keeping it local, and beer enthusiasts appreciate it. They take pride in supporting their local economies on multiple levels by just enjoying one beer.

Supporting Communities

In addition to boosting economies, local breweries tend to give back to their communities. For example, in Asheville, Wicked Weed Brewing created a unique sour ale called "Lost Toys" in 2016. A portion of the sales of each beer went to the St. Nicholas Project, which provided thousands of families with Christmas gifts. Another brewery, The Asheville Brewing Company, held two coat drives during the year and collected over 300 items each time. They also had Santa stop by for pictures so parents could avoid paying steep prices at the mall.

Beer is shared between friends to celebrate or relax together, and brewpubs offer a great way for friends to meet and socialize. A lot of breweries feature games – such as jumbo Jenga, giant Connect 4, and cornhole – for people to play while they sip their beers and socialize. Many beer enthusiasts enjoy stopping by their local breweries on the weekends to catch live music being performed by local musicians.

From boosting the economy to supporting communities, local breweries benefit their communities in a variety of ways. Beer enthusiasts love having a local option to choose from, friends enjoy having a new spot to hang out, musicians appreciate having a new stage to share their talents, and the city reaps the economic profits. As the craft beer industry continues to grow, communities will continue to benefit from their brewery’s many positive aspects.

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About the author:

Henry believes travel can change you, and good health preserves you. He combines both in his work on FitWellTraveler.com.